Print Friendly, PDF & Email

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

James 1:2-4 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (NKJV)

I have received many questions and comments from readers since this series started. Several of them have had a common theme, so I wanted to shared a couple of them at this point in the series (with permission). I hope you will find them as interesting and thought provoking as I did.

  • Comment: ” Thank you so much for affirming a lot of what I’ve been learning over the past 5 years. A tragic event in our family in 1992 forced me to really focus on developing my relationship with Jesus, and I’ve been working on it since then. I guess he was allowing me to stockpile what I would need spiritually, because the past 5 years have been trial after trial, for me and others in my circle of influence. Your teaching underscores what I’ve come to accept: Suffering is a big part of our lives as maturing Christians. It’s how God proves He is faithful; He promises to equip us and give us every thing we need; He knows what is best for us – better than we do. And he will bring blessing from adversity! Amazing!”
    • My response: You are truly blessed. God never gives us what we can’t handle; but loves us to give us AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE in order to reward us and bless us as much as possible. The harder your life is, the more you can be sure of the authenticity of your faith. The more like Christ you are, the more God can get serious about making you more like Christ, and that is often (and arguably primarily) through trials. For the serious Christian, life only gets tougher and tougher! And how wonderful that is, knowing that with each passing trial you are: becoming more like Christ, storing up treasure in heaven, understanding more fully what Jesus suffered and having your faith purified. It’s like gold. The hotter the fire, the longer the fire, the more pure the gold. You are becoming pure “Godly gold” and if you understand that, you can truly see trials as a wonderful blessing.
  • Comment: “This series seems to be telling people that if they don’t go out and SEEK adversity/hardship then they are less Christian. I understand that the statement about people who have endured hardship relate better to those that have had the same affliction, so people who suffer are able to be more “Christ-like”, but I don’t remember in the Bible where is says Jesus went out seeking hardship. Yes he did go on fasting sprees, but that is not seeking out hardship. This statement also has me concerned: “What are the differences between avoiding it, seeking to escape it and flat out going looking for it? I leave you to consider those answers yourself.” When you state this, along with what I have state above makes me think of a Monty Python “Holy Grail” scene where there are medieval monks going around hitting themselves with boards or sticks saying “I am dead” in Latin. Punishing themselves (hardship) because they think they are being more “Christ-like”.

    Maybe I am missing the point of this series or I have not grasped the concept. You also state that we should not try to “get out” of the hardship or take the easy way out. In my mind a physical example of this comes to mind of a person that is bitten by a poisonous snake… Definitely a hardship, are you saying that they should seek immediate medical attention? That would be taking the “easy way” out, wouldn’t it? While I believe that it would be wrong to seek illegal/immoral ways to ease suffer or hardship, but to not take any action of your own (wait for God to do everything) to end or ease suffering or hardship doesn’t seem right. Am I missing something in the series?

    • My response: Two points that may help. First, Jesus, nor us, need to go “seeking” suffering. It will find you if you live on this planet. It is a byproduct of the curse of sin.

      Suffering is a fact of our existence. Being an unavoidable fact, we need to know how God would have us respond. God in His infinite love and wisdom has done the “impossible” and turned even suffering into a blessing, using it to transform us into Christ’s image.

      The very unBiblical, Roman Catholic idea of self-inflicted suffering (whipping themselves, crawling on their knees up stone paths, etc) is a man-made attempt to merit God’s favor COMPLETELY without any redeeming quality. It is an attempt to obligate God by our own effort.

      By enduring suffering we are not trying to EARN God’s favor, we are simply obeying Him; and simple obedience always brings God’s blessing (and unlike today’s prosperity teaching, that blessing is primarily spiritual although it CAN by physical).

      So do we SEEK adversity? No. It will find us. It’s inevitable.

      Do we immediately seek a remedy? Depends on the situation. There is no checklist. The Spirit guides us. You can’t use the extremes to make a broad point. Of course if your leg is on fire, or a snake has bitten you, immediate medical attention is called for. That is not my point at all. My point is that we have a mentality that suffering is always bad, that it is to be avoided at all cost, and that we should alleviate all hardship immediately.

      That is why we have a drug for every discomfort. Do we ask God first what He would have us do in our discomfort (I’m not talking about a physical, life threatening emergency)? No. We immediately turn to chemical or emotional relief. If we are suffering mistreatment we immediately seek legal relief. If we are suffering material discomfort, we get immediately buy whatever makes us comfortable, even if we go into debt.

      We must not limit this discussion about adversity solely to a physical “medication”/physical suffering issue. God gave us doctors and they are a blessing. That is only one issue. Equally, if not more, our suffering is emotional, relational and spiritual. To use chemicals or materialism to alleviate those is quite a different issue.

      It’s a mindset of “comfort at all costs” escaping the blessing of affliction. Read Psalms 119 which details over and over the blessing of enduring adversity.

      So, no we don’t go looking for suffering, it will find us often enough. Yes, we turn to God first rather than our immediate response being to alleviate the hardship which is a heart issue of seeking God’s glory first over all things. If a hardship arises, then God has ordained it, or it wouldn’t be happening. Find out what His purpose is. Yes, we have to use our Holy Spirit guided practical sense and put out a fire, find a doctor, do CPR, feed the hungry, etc. To deny that would be ridiculous.

      We should do all we can to alleviate suffering, all the while having an attitude of submissiveness that looks to the Lord FIRST and seeks His glory over our comfort; considering that the current affliction may be for our good and His glorifying.

      When I wrote “ “What are the differences between avoiding it, seeking to escape it and flat out going looking for it? I leave you to consider those answers yourself .” I was leaving the reader to contemplate exactly the questions and issues that you have asked me about, so the sentence had its desire effect. These questions are exactly what I wanted people to consider and answer for themselves.

    • Readers return response: “Thanks so much for giving me a personal response, coming up with a daily devotional (as well as run a business) must be very time consuming. Yes, you may use my questions. I am not embarrassed by my questions or I wouldn’t have asked them. While I wasn’t totally missing the point of what you were trying to get across in this lesson, I just had to ask the questions of the source that I have been letting guide me in devotionals for the last 6 months so that I could have faith that it wasn’t off in left field from what I believed. And you have assured me well. Thanks again for you personal time. A brother in Christ, JD”

Contemplation: Has God used any suffering in your life to draw you close to Him? Did it change your attitude about adversity? What is your first response? Escape or God’s glory?

Application: We don’t need to seek adversity. It will find us. The question is, what is your attitude about it? Do you see it the way God’s see’s suffering, or the way the world see’s it?.

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?