How does the testing of our faith produce patience and endurance? I was introduced to this concept years ago by God Himself. In order to explain, you need to come on a journey with me. Fasten your seatbelt and adjust your space helmet, because we’re taking a trip into outer space. Please join me in that dream of almost forty years ago.
I stood in the center of a round flying saucer, just large enough for me and the other person standing next to me. No seats, no controls, and no pilot … just a circular windshield of glass through which I observed that inky-black outer space. The ride was velvet smooth, and I knew without words that the other person was an angelic being who mentally guided us at a speed beyond my comprehension. Silvery lines reflected light in the distance, and as we drew closer they thickened—hundreds of them threaded vertically through space, like gliding through a spider’s web without becoming entangled.
The speed slowed as we approached what appeared to be our destination. A giant hand—a man’s right hand with fingers vertically extended—floated in space. Inherently, I knew that it was the hand of God. Our saucer seemed fly-sized in relation to His hand as it coasted around from the backside to the front, and wonder overtook me as I viewed skin and hair follicles. We reached the front, facing an open Bible that rested in the center of His palm. The ship held steady as I read, “The Book of James,” and the dream faded away while I was reading down the page.
That next morning, my memory was ablaze. The first thing, I reached for my Bible and turned there. What had the text said? The mystery spurred me on.
My eyes widened and my jaw dropped. Why did it look so familiar? My book of James began on the right side of the page, and Hebrews ended on the left. I witnessed my personal Bible in God’s hand. Whoa!
I read through the first few verses: 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, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing ~ James 1:2-4, NASB.
Yes, I was going through trials at that time and had been praying for answers. So that was the key—choosing joy on purpose! My faith was being tested, not punished.
Why did I grow up believing that obedient Christians wouldn’t have fiery trials …that the mark of a true believer was a problem-free life? Like Job’s friends, who blamed his suffering on sins unknown or unconfessed? How wrong.
Christians don’t have perfect lives. In fact, it seems the more Godly you are, the more trials you have. Why is that?
The Lord has used this chapter in James to teach me many principles over the years, but he straightened me out on this important point. It’s normal for Christians to face trials in life, so I should choose a positive attitude and always be thankful for the lessons God is teaching me. I have a lot to learn, meaning a lot of trials are on the way.
It’s not human nature to be happy about going through any trial, I admit, but I’ve learned God extends us His grace so that we can survive it with an attitude of joy. Knowing that there’s a purpose in testing our faith helps us endure to the end—not only resulting in the fruit of patient endurance, but also leading to a pretty awesome reward at the end of those trials. In spite of all the suffering, growing into Christ’s likeness and perfection is so worth it.
You may be going through a trial right now, may have just finished one, or may be waiting for your next one to surface. Each is designed by God for your good, to help you grow by faith into His perfect image.
It is my prayer that you find peace and joy as you allow the Holy Spirit to prune and shape you into the perfect image of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen ~ 1Peter 5:10-11.