Lest this blog get sin-heavy, let me be quick and sure to say that life happens. Suffering happens. There is no escape. It isn’t always tied to our sin and it’s not necessarily a consequence.
James 1 comes to mind when I think about “life” happening. Chapter 1, verse 2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” It’s written to Christians, “brethren,” and it says when you fall, not if. I looked up”fall” in Greek and it means: “to fall; to encounter.”
Think Mr. Magoo. He walks along, minding his own business when, BOOM! he falls in an open manhole. In the same way, trials appear in our path. We don’t see them coming. We don’t “deserve” them. They just happen. I find that both comforting and beautiful. I didn’t plan it, but God did. And it’s part of a bigger, better plan. A plan for my good. God knows. He sees the future–inside out, forward and backward. He is at the end before the beginning, and He’s not One to waste anything.
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.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 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. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2-7 ESV)
As I fall into unexpected trials, based on James 1:2-7, I have started to ask: Am I leaning on Christ or myself? Am I asking for help? For wisdom? Am I growing in trust and patience? This trial is intended to make me steadfast; perfect and complete. Am I fighting God and my difficulty or submitting to Him?If I’m doing it right, it’s not my job to fix the problem, make it go away, or figure out the end. The joy is in knowing that God will use this present difficulty to make me more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29).
It’s also a good reminder when I see others suffering. Their difficulty or situation may not have anything to do with their personal choices or sin. It could be something they “fell” into–just like I do, by God’s grace. God’s hand is not removed from the situation–it’s all over it.
When you and I “fall into various trials,” we can stop and look for Jesus. In that hard place, we can have joy. Jesus fell into suffering–and look where He ended up!
…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NKJV)
Written by Sydney Millage