Friends, I know there is a seemingly insurmountable mountain of trial in our lives. Whatever it is you personally are facing, there is hope to endure through it. God does not promise us escape from trial, but endurance through it. If we consider how James addresses this topic in the first part of his letter, I think it would encourage us and enable us to press on to take that next step, and the next step and the next.
“2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:2-12, ESV)
Author and Christian counselor Paul Tripp tells us, “Perhaps the two most important questions you could ask between your conversion and your final resurrection are:
- What in the world is God doing right here, right now?
- How in the world should I respond to what God is doing?”
When we slow down and ask ourselves these questions, we are entering a Kingdom-focused moment. We are acknowledging that God is King over this moment in my life right now and that He has a plan for everything. This mountain that I’m staring down, that seems to be in my way, is not in God’s way. It’s actually a tool of grace in God’s plan to shape us. “ 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 ESV)
So, our trials are actually a tool of God’s grace to produce character in us. I want to close with another encouragement from Paul Tripp who reminds us to not be discouraged, to not give up, don’t listen to the lies of the enemy, to not forsake your good habits of faith and to not question God’s goodness. We need to remember that behind the mountain of trial “is an ever-present Redeemer who is completing His work.” (Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies)