The words of James 1:2-8 should hang in a prominent place in every man’s home today:
“Count it all Joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know 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 doubt 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.” (English Standard Version)
I wonder how many Christian men really believe that God is truly at work in their lives in terms of trials and tribulations. We are quick to point out what the devil or what people are doing to us. We rarely seek God for any reason other than to remove the source of irritant or pain. We rarely identify the trials that God places us in as his designed training, and we seek out numerous instructors to help us make sense of what is taking place.
The truth is, deep down inside, we have a sense that there is a purpose within the trial, but we don’t want to believe it. We know that God instructs us to rejoice in trials, but we refuse to do it. He instructs us to hold fast and believe, but we are double minded. He instructs us to give our best in the midst of it, but we hoard or talents and possessions. He instructs us to let him lovingly prune us and remove everything that does not belong in our lives, but we fight tooth and nail. The very process that realigns our wills and accelerates our growth, we do everything we can to deny as an option in our lives.
We have been duped into waiting on the divine gravy train that will remove all of our struggles in life. Many have preached a message that struggles of health, resources, relationships and mental anguish indicate a lack of faith. Our honesty about these things arouses the instincts of predators, because they are drawn to struggling people by what they see as the scent of weakness. They promise that they can help you with these things – for a fee if they are a business or an offering if they are a ministry. If you pay close attention to the passage above, God is the author of the trial that befalls individuals and communities as well. He will also be the finisher. The key to overcoming any trial is focused endurance. You have to be anchored into the purpose of it, not simply the resolution. The passage I cited in James says trials – it’s plural. More trials will come. As long you have breath, they will come. Welcome and overcome them by faith. They are yours, designed for you! It does not matter the form in which they come.
Lastly, men: be careful of the wolves in sheep’s clothing – predatory peddlers of false hope and instruction designed to simply fleece you and channel your emotion to their cause. They are everywhere and too numerous to list. You are ultimately responsible for who and what you follow. Christ’s sheep know his voice. The problem is we stray often and find ourselves in places we simply should not be.
Our trials are designed by the Almighty to strengthen our resolve and to rid us of double mindedness. If you persevere, you may be one of the people God is calling to help lead this generation.