Found myself thinking about a statement by Charles Swindoll, a favorite Christian author of mine that I stumbled upon today. It says “Perseverance: willingness to accept whatever comes, strength to face it head on, determination to stand firm, and insight to see the Lord’s hand in it all.” Quite a good mantra to live by, but I find that it’s not the appreciation of such thoughts that we have difficulty with, it’s putting it into practice. Yet it can be done. Strewn throughout the pages of the bible are many people who changed defeat into victory and their trials into triumph. And in today’s word, James shows us that this same experience can be ours. So how do we accomplish this you ask?
Well we obtain our first key in the above verse, “consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.” Do you notice that James doesn’t say if but whenever, an assumption that as Christians we will experience trials or adversity. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised when adversity comes our way. Albeit, no one is ever prepared for the loss of a loved one, illness, divorce, job loss or catastrophes that turn our world upside down. This is what James means by “various trials” – these things are often times out of our control, and we are susceptible to them simply because we are human.
Jesus Christ who is our example told us to expect trials as well. (1) Because He also experienced trials even though He was the Son of God. (2) Through His death on the cross He made a way for us to walk in victory through our trials. Jesus said “in the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration: but be of good cheer! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and I have conquered it for you.]” Herein lies another key to remain joyful in the midst of the distress and frustration – Christ has deprived it of power; it cannot harm you even though it might appear so. And this is not meant to minimize your pain, pressure or frustration. But the devil would like us to believe that we are defeated. Still Christ tells us “I have conquered it for you.” So if it has been conquered [notice past tense] then it means that we can walk in victory. It’s already done!
Further, 1 Peter 4:12 tells us that some tribulation come to us because we are Christians. “Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you.” I am learning in my walk that if the people in the bible had to deal with tribulations so will I and you. For the ways of God does not change, all His children must past through this road if they are to mature.
So what is to be the Christian’s response? The Christian must “consider it wholly joyful!” Whoa, this is like taking medicine, doesn’t always taste good going down but it is beneficial to your health. Sister and Brother Christian this is the attitude we are called to take and this is what the above statement speaks to. The willingness to accept whatever comes. We are not alone, the apostles, Esther, Elijah, and Christians before us also had this attitude. Therefore the other key to walking in victory through trials is to immediately thank God and adopt a joyful attitude. “But how, we may ask, we cannot perceive how it is possible to rejoice in the midst of adversity?”