“When troubles come your way, consider it
an opportunity for great joy.”
Thoughts… Benjamin Franklin said, “those things that hurt, instruct.” In review of the growth in your life, you have probably found that to be true, as I have. The best lessons in life have come from the things we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves: failure on a test, the break-up of a romance, the loss of a job, the denial of a dream.
Of course, at every one of life’s speedbumps there is a choice either to get bitter or to get better. It all depends on our response to these difficulties. If we choose the better route of patiently and joyfully enduring our trials, here are a few of the God-ordained growth outcomes James mentions:
- Maturity—Verses 2-4: Patiently and redemptively enduring trials takes us through a cycle from pain to patience to perfection.
- Wisdom—Verses 5-8: Painful trials always cause us to scratch our heads and seek guidance for a way forward. For the believer, this is always an opportunity to go to God—through prayer, by his Word, and through his people—to ask for wisdom. And God promises to give it in liberal amounts.
- True Riches—Verses 9-11: Trials have a way of reminding both poor and rich that wealth and material things are fleeting, but our relationship with God isn’t. When everything else fades from view, the true richness of belonging to God is all the more appreciated.
- Eternal Reward— Verses 12-15: Patience in suffering will be rewarded with the crown of life on the day we stand in eternity before God. This life will soon pass, and eternal life will begin. Enduring suffering for a season—even if it is an entire season of life—will seem like a blip on the radar a billion years into our eternal life. Bad things happen to me to produce good things in me so that eternal things can happen for me.
- Sundry Gifts— Verses 16-18: Redemptive suffering also has a way of helping us appreciate the variety of God’s gifts that we might otherwise have missed. We become much more sensitive to life, and thus, much more grateful to God.
Suffering is never much fun. No one in his or her right mind would purposely choose it. But when pain finds us, if we dedicate ourselves to going through it redemptively, the reward will be the joy of our spiritual transformation.
Prayer… Lord, thank you for those things that I have suffered. They have hurt, but better yet, they have helped. They have instructed. They have transformed me. They have caused me to move closer to you. And you have stood by me through them all, sustaining and strengthening me. I am forever grateful.
One More Thing… “Pain may indeed constitute God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world to surrender.” —C.S. Lewis