When Testing Comes

By Aaron Elder

In the letter of James, he writes in verses 2-4: “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.” (ESV)

April was a hard month for me. I wrote two posts about God’s discipline in March and then two things happened 1) I grumbled and 2) I was confronted by God for said grumbling.

In response to the Lord’s discipline in my work which I referenced in my prior posts, I worked hard and God strengthened and encouraged me in my working. But I got to the end of March, took a look at my situation, compared it with other people and said in full 3-year old fit mode, “it’s not enough! I want more!” The Lord extended His grace through my wife who challenged my attitude and the next morning I read Numbers 11:4-6. “The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (ESV)

Here’s what I (the rabble) was communicating to God: “Nevermind your miraculous provision every time I turn around, I want meat! I want bigger and better! And not only do I want it – You owe it to me!”

From January thru March, even in my obedience, God was setting me up for a trial. You might be thinking, “Wait, what do you mean He was setting you up?” We have to understand what James means when he says trial. Trial is the English word that seemed to fit best to the translator because of context, but the Greek word used – peirasmos – is neutral. It essentially means an experience or an experiment. The life we live is a continuous series of experiences. It reminds me of playing baseball growing up. I became a baseball player at a young age and I started in T-ball before eventually finishing after high school. Every year, I had coaches who put me in situations that would challenge me and sometimes I “failed.” In a playoff game my Sophomore year, our team made 11 errors (3 were mine!). Needless to say our season ended quickly! But more coaching, practice, games, repetition, repetition, repetition and my last year of baseball we finished 2nd in the state. If I would have treated all the years of baseball “trials” like we tend to do with our spiritual trials, I would have quit in Little League. But God, rich in mercy, hand delivers trials so we can experience where we’re at, give it back to Him and allow Him to transform us until we’re “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

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