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Developing Perseverance And Wisdom In The Face Of Trials
The book of James in the New Testament describes trials as trials that come through suffering which Christians will endure and overcome. James 1:2-4 considers enduring trials a joy, because they grow and develop perseverance.
Perseverance is steadfastness in faith or assurance of eternal security in Jesus Christ, which the believer has after overcoming trials. RH Johnson, in his article “Winning Under Trial” (p1) describes trials as “the old way of testing new bridges.” He went on to explain that the new bridges were built a lot before they were used for government work, not to spoil them or make them fail but to make them stronger with regular use. R. Jonathan, an early rabbi mentioned in Jewish works such as the Talmud; also once said “The potter does not test the defective materials. What does he test? Only the material. Likewise, the Holy One, the Blessed One, does not test the wicked but the righteous.” These two references help Christians to know that trials or sufferings are not impossible for us, and if we endure it, it will lead to the reward of heaven, therefore, there are many reasons to rejoice in the prospect of the reward as if we stand firm in our faith.
According to Peter H. Davids in ‘James – A Good News commentary’, 1983, (p3), the trials that James is referring to are the testing and testing situations in life, the hard situations in which we are tested. faith looks hard, like persecution, a difficult moral choice, or a tragic experience. Although these may have been sad or bitter experiences, Jacob did not dwell on them but changed his view of such trials to the outcome. In reality, a test is not an end in itself; it is only one way to the end. For the believer, the end result is the development of patience and divine wisdom in facing or overcoming these trials.
The wisdom of the world seeks to avoid issues in a trial situation by accommodation on and/or agreement. But, wisdom from God helps the Christian to overcome temptation through faith.
The story of Job in the Old Testament is a perfect example of a true believer in God who develops endurance and wisdom in trials. Job is a righteous and blameless man who fears God and turns away from evil. However, the time came for him to pass the test, and it rained on him all the way. His wealth, which was measured in thousands of cattle, was all lost in one day. He also lost all ten of his children and as if all this was not enough, he also suffered physical pain. This very righteous man is suffering mentally and physically now, but his respect for God is not worthy. Even his wife lost her trust in God, and told Job to die quickly, which they saw was near, by cursing God. Job’s answer to him is that we should not only accept ‘blessings’ from God, but problems as well. He refused to give up on God even though the situation got worse when his three friends came and accused him of suffering from a secret sin. However, Job sought God’s face. He cried out to God for an explanation of his suffering, which he knew he did not deserve. He exceeded his life and endured these trials with the wisdom he received from God, which surpassed all the human wisdom shown by his friends. This story illustrates the fact that the true wisdom of God is to love God with respect above all the gifts we receive from Him and to trust in His goodness even though we cannot always understand His ways. It is worth noting that God gives us special grace for every trial that we ask for. That is why, according to BW Woods, 1974 (p72), John Milton could write poetry while he was blind and Beethoven could write music even though he lived in the silence of the deaf world. God’s grace is sufficient for every situation or condition. The Apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians that after he had pleaded with God only three times to remove his “thorn in the flesh”, God told him that his grace was sufficient for him because we said this power is complete in weakness. (2 Cor 12:8-9). God’s grace produces wisdom in people, in faith and patience.
God uses trials or tribulations to strengthen our faith in Him. As Davids put it, “The process of making the test is like that of steel: heat, rather than destroying the steel, makes it stronger”. (p3). The result of trials in our life will be the ability to endure it to the end, hoping for our reward in heaven. This strength is a virtue that only trials and tribulations will produce. It also gives us a firm attitude and shows our faith. The story of Abraham in Genesis 22 is an example of a man growing patient from his trial.
God has promised Abraham that he will make him the father of many nations and that he will make a covenant with Abraham’s descendants, and will give them the land of Canaan as an eternal possession. God also gave Abraham and Sarah his wife a son in their old age, and they were happy. Suddenly, God tested Abraham by telling him to take his son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering to Him. Abraham had promised to obey God and had consecrated his son to God through circumcision. However, his hopes of becoming the father of a great nation have been dashed, as he now wants to kill the covenant son. This did not hinder Abraham’s loyalty to God but he obediently took the boy to sacrifice. He is sure that God will do something to fulfill the promise he made to him. When Isaac asked his father about the burnt offering, the answer was that God himself would provide it. Abraham endured this ordeal to go up to the mountain with his son, he built an altar, arranged firewood, tied his son, and put him on a tree to kill him. It is almost that a father can do that to his own son, but Abraham suffered this test, he had confidence that God will do something for him in the future, as He did before. God revealed himself to Abraham by providing a ram for sacrifice and by renewing His covenant to bless him and multiply his seed. Abraham endured because of his suffering, and he was rewarded.
Perseverance is a development, which shapes the behavior of the Christian believer around his commitment to Christ. He refers to the assurance given to those who follow Christ, reminding them that the power of God will keep them as Christians until they die and that they will surely live with Christ in heaven forever. It involves perseverance and steadfastness in prayer, seeking God’s wisdom to help him overcome his trials.
Divine wisdom is the communication of God, showing man the way to life. This communication takes place through persistence and firm prayer and comes directly from God to man. Only God gives man a heart capable of knowing good and evil. Proverbs 1:7 and 14:27 tell us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the source of life; and only fools hate learning and wisdom. Solomon, when he became king of Israel, asked God for wisdom to rule his people and to differentiate between good and bad. This divine wisdom helps Christians to make the right decisions about the right actions to take under certain circumstances, with the Holy Spirit as a guide. This wisdom is what we are reminded of in James 1:5 as a free gift from God to believers, which leads to a wise life, showing itself in goodness, godliness and behavior . Jacob said that God is ready to give us this wisdom, and he will not talk to us because we ask, but we should ask with faith and believe that God will solve our problems in the best way.
As Christians, we must know that trials are inevitable and that it is important for us to persevere. We also need God’s wisdom to overcome them. James tells us that wisdom allows us to face trials with “pure joy” (James 1:2) but we must have firm faith to accept it and do it. The Bible says that as Christians, God wants us to think like Christ, to love him, to care about him, to obey like him, and to sacrifice like him. (Romans 8:29). This should remind us that although we cannot be Christ but we must be ready and willing to suffer like him.
NIV Bible Study.
Davids, Peter H, James. Good comment. Leicester: Inter Varsity Press, 1983
Woods, BW Christians in Suffering – A Perspective on Suffering. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974
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