Bible Reading: James 1:2-4

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4)

As Christians in a spiritual war, our foe will constantly bombard us with temptation and lies. However, the beauty of the matter is that God uses these same temptations as trials for our faith to produce endurance in us. A trial or temptation is the same event, however, from two completely different motives and purposes. The devil sends temptations so that we might fall into sin and deny God. However, God uses that same event as a trial for those who believe in Him. A trial is a test. We have tests at school so that we can grow and improve in our studies. Likewise, God gives us spiritual tests to produce steadfastness in us. 

Take Job for an example. Satan went out to take all of Job’s possessions, tempting him to curse God’s face. However, God used that same event to refine Job’s faith in God and chastise Job of the indwelling pride that still lay in his heart. God works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), even Satan’s temptations. When Satan places us within sinful secular cultures in our school so that we would succumb and leave God, God is working to test our faith and produce endurance and faithfulness to Him in our hearts. When Satan entices our sinful desires for pride, lust or selfishness, Satan wants us to fall again into sin. However, God uses these trials so that we may put sin to death and turn to Him where all our sins have been forgiven. In temptation, there are always trials for those who are children of God. 

Because God is in control of our trials, we must count it for joy! If there are trials in which we struggle at school, at church, or in our personal life, God is at work to produce growth in our faith, how we must praise God and thank Him for His steadfast love to sinners like us. We don’t even deserve to be changed. We don’t even deserve an opportunity to be pleasing to God. Yet, God is slowly but surely working to transform us more and more into His likeness. This is very joyous news. 

Another reason to be joyful is that if God gives trials, He promises to give a way out. He promises that we will overcome the trials no matter how difficult it seems because He will not try us beyond our abilities. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”. If God has given us trials right now, it is because He wills to work in us so that we might grow in endurance and through that to grow in life and faith. God longs to make us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. This, of course, will be fulfilled in heaven. However, God is actively working today that we may be changed from our sinful selves into new creations that are sanctified worshippers of the Holy God. 

This truth should bring us deep spiritual joy. This is not the temporary happiness we experience when we indulge in worldly pleasures. It is calm enduring contentment in the person of God and the faithfulness of God. It is an unshakable spiritual joy that will strengthen us through all our trials. God is working so that we can know Him more and enjoy Him more as he weans us from our sinful past and renews our minds and hearts in His truth. Take heart in temptation and be all the more willing to obey God no matter how hard because “God [is working] in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13)

Lord, You are faithful, and Your love never ends. You love sinners so much that You not only die, but You actively intercede for us that we may grow to be like You. Praise be to You. Please forgive me whenever I turn from You. Forgive me when I set my gaze on earthly things and myself. Forgive me when I think I can defeat temptations myself. Thank You for returning me to Your Word. Thank You that I am not alone in trials because You plan to create endurance in me. Help me to joyfully obey You and humbly trust You in all the trials I may face. In Jesus’ name, amen.