Monday, November 5, 2007

Lesson 8 - How do you handle trials?

Do any of us want trials? I would dare say we would all say No. None of us like to suffer. The Bible gives us clear direction on what to do in trials. Read James 1:2-8. James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials. I'm sure some of you maybe saying you have got to be kidding!!

First, of all we need to look at some background information about James. James was the first of the New Testament books that was written. James was talking to new Christians who were often poor and facing all kinds of persecution. Often the new Christians had been dispersed and were all over the world, as they knew it at that time. So, often these Christians were in small groups and had little support. Can you imagine moving to a far off country and receiving a letter from your current pastor with these words, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

What is James saying and what does he mean? Often when we experience trials we grow in our faith. We learn that God is ultimately the only person we can truly depend on. You may have met people and I have said this myself, "I wouldn't change the trial I went through for anything, because I grew so much in my faith and learned more about God." I have been there and I can truly testify that trials strengthen our faith.

Verse 5 is a great verse. If we lack wisdom ask God and he will give generously. How many time have you been in a situation and don't know what to do. We are to clearly ask God for direction and wisdom and he will give it. God holds and knows our future, why shouldn't we ask him.

Verse 6 warns us about how we ask for wisdom. We must have faith and believe that God will answer us. We cannot be double minded. Either we trust God to do what he says or we don't.
I often find it helpful to look back over my life and see all the times that God has been faithful. Count my blessings. If God has been faithful once, why won't he be faithful again. God can be trusted. He will never leave us or forsake us.

So, what is ultimately the purpose of trials. Often, God is teaching us something through our trials. Are you listening? Are you asking him what he has for you to learn so you can mature and grow in your faith? Let's be honest. Most of the time when we experience trials our first reaction is God get me out of this and quick. I don't want to learn I just want relief? Am I correct on that? Sometimes we need to slow down and ask God what he is trying to show us during a difficult time.

So, here are some questions for you to ponder and feel free to share on the blog:

1. How do I perceive trials? Do I want quick relief or am I seeking God's purpose?

2. Do I want to learn perseverance?

3. Do I ask God for wisdom for every day things going on in my life and the big things
as well?

4. Do I really trust that God will do what he says he will do?

5. Can I really experience joy in the midst of trials, especially if it means I am
growing in my faith?

6. Is my ultimate goal to grow in my faith or to prevent going through hard times?

I have to admit most of don't want to sign up for trials, but we all experience them. The next time you are going through a trial. Seek God's presence and ask him what he wants you to learn. I think if we don't try to learn and grow through a trial, then often the trial is wasted.
God will never leave us and we have to trust that he knows best.

Please share your thoughts after completing this Bible Study.