In the crucible

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In the book of James, we read, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect, complete and lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4. Job says that “man is born for troubles as the sparks fly upward, “Job 5:7. Trials and the difficulties of life seem to be our constant companion. So, what is it all about? Why does God allow our steps to be so plagued by a constant parade of troubles?

We often think that the devil is responsible for our troubles. But is that really so? The devil had to get permission from God before he could do anything to Job. Moreover, before Peter’s failure, denying Jesus three times in the night before He was crucified, Jesus had said to Peter earlier, “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.” Luke 22:31. Again, Satan had to go to God and get permission before he could do anything to Peter. Clearly, Satan can do only what God allows him to do. So, that leads us to a troubling fact, and that is, that the final word on what happens in the life of a believer comes from the throne of God. Does God really allow calamity of various sorts to bring misery into the lives of His people? After all, doesn’t He say, “I know the plans that I have for you ... plans for welfare and not/or calamity, to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11). So, how are we to understand God allowing difficulties and troubles as a recurring part of our daily walk with Him?

Well, think about this. As a Christian have you ever prayed to be more like Jesus? Have you ever said to God that you want to be more godly, more righteous, more holy? Well, if you have, God is answering your prayer. In the book of Hebrews, we read, that “It was fitting for Him ... to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings,” Hebrews 2:10. In the original language the word used here for “perfect” carries the thought of “being completed.” Jesus work of atonement for us was completed through His sufferings in our place as our substitute.

The point is simply this. If we want God to make us like Jesus, He is going to do it in the same way that He made Jesus like Jesus. It is going to be through sufferings. We are in the process of being perfected in the same way that Jesus was perfected. He was perfected, or to say another way, completed, through trials and sufferings, even up to the end of His earthly life, when He was crucified.

James also writes, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, for once he has been approved he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him,” James 1:12. This is not talking about salvation, for one does not receive salvation through suffering enough for his sins, but by faith, trusting in Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

This text is talking about life today where we are learning to trust Jesus in overcoming sin and its power in our life. God has called us to be “victorious warriors,” and He is leading us in the way that makes us able to enjoy the “abundant life,” that Jesus came to give us. Life was not meant to get us down but to provide opportunities for us to excel over the circumstances of life that we may have the joy and peace that transcends the difficulties that life throws at us. Joy and peace are a big part of the abundant life that Jesus promised.

This brings us back to our beginning statement “To consider it all joy when you encounter various trials. “These things are part of God’s plan to perfect and make His people complete and “lacking in nothing.” And the abundant life is exactly where God is taking us. So, let us not resist and fight against what He is doing in our life, but seek Him instead, for the grace that Jesus gives to face the trials and difficulties and ascend before Him to the abundant life.

Rick McLeod can be reached Southside Community Church in Cocolalla.

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