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Trials, tribulations and temptations are three of the scariest words in the Christian language. After James’ brief introduction, he immediately confronts his readers with a number of practical, personal implications of a living faith. If someone has ever told you that living the Christian life will be a bed of roses, you’re already listening to the wrong person.
Christians who expect his or her life to be easy is in for a shock. Jesus has warned us, “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33), and the apostle Paul informed his listeners, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
Whenever people enter a season of trials, they react in one of three ways. Normally, their first reaction is to try and escape it. Simply put, we would rather not experience any trial at any time in our lives. Oftentimes when we face trials, we ask God to explainwhat He is up to. We tend to ask, “Why is this happening to me?”If we could just understand what God was trying to do by allowing such trials to enter our lives, we somehow think that it would be much easier to endure it. We tend to think, “If I could just understand what’s going on, then everything will be better.” A third reaction is the exit strategy. This is where we just want to get out as quickly as possible. The problem though is that a fast solution to trials often involves compromise.
An old southern preacher once told his congregation, “When the Lord sends tribulations, He ‘spects us to tribulate.”
Throughout the Word of God are people who triumphantly endured their trials and victoriously defeated their temptations. According to James, we still face those same issues. No matter what the trials are on the outside or the temptations on the inside, believers can experience victory through faith in Jesus Christ. The result of having done so is spiritual maturity.
I want to share with you some thoughts to ponder whenever you’re facing an outer trial or when you are fighting an inner temptation. But remember, great faith must have trials and “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”(1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV).
As Christians, we are called to endure trials for God’s glory which actually shows that we love Him and we are not to allow temptation to defeat us. Here are five encouraging thoughts to keep in mind when we are facing trials and temptations:
1. God uses trials to produce perseverance within us.
2. God provides wisdom to understand trials, if we seek it.
3. With God, believers, whether rich or poor, find encouragement to rejoice over their position in life.
4. God promises to fill us with hope as we endure trials and overcome temptations.
5. If we endure, there is a crown of life that awaits us.
Keith Stewart is pastor of Morriston Baptist Church,