When I think of this past year and all the trials we have gone through as we navigate a global pandemic, one word comes to mind: Perseverance. Every year I choose a word that I feel God has given me and wouldn’t you know it, it’s perseverance!
Not one person has escaped the trials of this past year and it is safe to say we have all learned how to pivot and persevere through the unknowns. If you haven’t heard this yet, let me be the first to let you know that as Christians we are not immune to the trials and tribulations of life. In fact James 1:2-4 says this: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James is telling us 3 things about trials:
Trials produce joy not happiness.
Happiness is circumstantial. Happiness often comes from things that provide instant gratification. When you eat your favorite meal, you’re happy, but as soon as it’s over, you’re sad. When you go on vacation, you are happy, but as soon as that plane lands back down in your hometown, the sadness sets in.
Joy comes from God! A hamburger or vacation gives momentary happiness, but joy is lasting. Joy is actually a choice. We can choose joy, even in the midst of trials. Even in the pain, it’s possible to choose joy. I’ve seen people endure very difficult times but have joy. We can consider our trials joy, because it’s the number one way in which God forms our character. And God cares more about what he is doing IN you than what is happening AROUND you.
Trials test our faith.
Did you know that God will test your faith to see if it’s genuine? I don’t like it, but it’s true! Sometimes God will ask us to take a leap of faith to see if our obedience is authentic. Remember, God’s testing is always for our good. When God tests our faith he is refining us, stripping down all the impurities and molding our character. Trials force us to rely on Him more and they strengthen our faith. It’s similar to the refining of Gold. Gold must go through intense heat to purify the scraps into what it is intended to be, pure. Sometimes we go through the heat to purify our hearts, our mind and our character.
Trials produce perseverance.
Perseverance or endurance is developed over time. Think of it as a process, like our Christian maturity and growth. We don’t wake up one day a brand new mature Christian, it takes time and life’s trials help produce that. The greek word for this is called hupomone. This word is actually from two words—the word meaning remain, and the word meaning under. So the testing of your faith produces hupomone—the ability to remain under. That’s what God is going for in your life. God wants to give to you the ability to remain under him.
Here’s how it often looks. When a trial comes, we start to feel the pressure—we start to feel the weight God allows. We try to bear up under it. We don’t bend our knees, we try to be strong. We want to get out from under the trial. We do this by complaining, lashing out, running or giving up. When we throw in the towel, we aren’t allowing God to move in our lives in the way he intends to. These trials produce life transformations but you’ve got to stay under the weight and endure.
So, how do we persevere? We must trust God is good and He loves us! When trials come our way, by God’s grace, we must endure, remain under the pain and press into Him not away from Him. And finally we must trust God is maturing us.
The greater the heat, the purer the gold!