The Value of Trials

There are those who would consider that going through the recovery process is far from joyful. For most of us there is a great deal of pain along the recovery path.

    James 1:2-4 (Amplified)
    Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations;
    Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience.
    And let patience have its’ perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.

What a profound verses of the Bible. This article explores these verses and relates them to the conflict and struggles that addiction, no matter how slight nor the type of addiction. Some may say that “If you don’t have a particular addiction, you can’t understand the pain that I go through.”

It is easy for us to magnify our burdens, especially those who have addictive issues. Notice, however, what grumbling did for the Israelites in the wilderness when God finally responded? Would we rather have our trial or grumble over our circumstance and receive what the Israelites did?

We must begin to cultivate the habit of thinking of life, including all of its trials, as being God’s way to shape godly character in us. We are an impatient people wanting everything right now, coated with as much pleasure as possible. A little pleasure is never enough, and so we go back for more, never achieving physical or mental satisfaction.

Many of you know that I struggle with issues of codependence. This is a slow and subtly harmful addiction that caries all the elements of a substance addiction. I dance the dance of dysfunction.

That does not mean just romantic relationships, or family relationships, or even human relationships in general.

The fact that dysfunction exists in romance and within family relationships is only a symptom that exists in all our relationship with life. It is a symptom of the dysfunction which exists in our relationships with our self as human beings. Therefore I can truthfully say that codependence is a dysfunctional relationship with self!

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral defense system which our egos adapted in early childhood to help us survive. That’s no less true in my case. I was raised in a shame based, emotionally, which was spirituality dishonest that at times was hostile.

Until you make peace with who you are,
You will never be content with what you have.

Developing patience has been a struggle for many people, myself included. God’s allows us to experience various trials because He knows that, once through the trial we grow spiritually stronger in our walk with Him. We can choose to “count it all joy” as we go through them because we have His assurance.

How many times have you looked back after a trial has passed and recognized the benefits it produced in your life? So often, we get the point after the fact. We tend to acknowledge the blessings after the trial is over, “Oh, now I see what God was doing.” But what James is saying is, do not wait until afterwards to receive the blessing, instead, find the joy in the midst of the trials. Trials and testing can produce patience. Remember, we are on God’s time. His ways are not our ways. There is not much we can do about avoiding such things in life. But we can decide how to get through them.

If you find yourself in trials today, ask the Lord to help you find joy through His Holy Spirit so that you will come through the testing with an increased patience, strength and faith.

Those of us who do not deny that we have problems, which we can not resolve alone are still amazed that daily, even moment by moment, there are temptations that come into our minds and sometime develop into inappropriate actions. I feel that the power of temptations has to do with the payoff that we received upon completion of that action. That payoff is usually in some form of pleasure. Although there are some who inflict pain upon themselves in order to feel some aliveness.

The good news of the gospel is that God is compassionate and gracious. He is slow to anger. He is full of love and faithfulness, and forgiving of wickedness, rebellion, and sin Exodus 34:6-7. While sin separates us from God, grace restores that fellowship. This grace is freely offered to us is through Christ alone. He bids us to come to him and repent of sin, that he might live in and through us, and that we might rest in his amazing grace. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

The moral of this story: It’s easy to get discouraged when things are going badly, but never lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Remember that the next time your body is burning and smoke is rising, with desire to participate in questionable activity; for just a moment of pleasure, it just may be a smoke signal that summons the Grace of God to quench that temptation.

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials. James was very specific with regard to trials. He said that trials were inevitable. It is not if but when you fall into those trials. The implication is that trials are occasions for joy! I have long held the position that we do not learn form positive situations. I refer that position to Adam and Eve while in the garden; they had everything, all positive things in their new life, and they still did not know what they had… What was there to compare it to; they had no negative situations.

As Job found out Faith is tested through trials, but it is not produced by trials. Trials reveal what faith we do have, not because God doesn’t know how much faith we have, but so that our faith will be evident to ourselves and those around us.

Paul writes in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Supernaturally, faith is built in us as we hear and understand and trust in God’s word.

In defense of James, he doesn’t want anyone to think that God sends trials to break down or destroy our faith. God is not interested in tearing us down. He is only interested in how we handle the trials that each of us will go through.

Man and woman are notorious for their neglect to trust the Lord. This applies to our thoughts, emotions, attitudes, words, and deeds that happen to us, but there is also the effects that come from all those acts of our will. These are the consequences generated by our choices.

God does not know if my un-resisted anger will result in a harsh word or a sneer or a swing of the fist or the pull of a trigger that’s my choice. He does not know if my un-resisted discouragement will result in my not going to work or my committing suicide or my walking away from my marriage. He does not know if my chosen word will be one that saves. He does not know if my chosen deeds will make an airplane crash or cause a law to pass. This is why God gave us a free will and with it the ability to make correct choices. Those choices are a direct result of our willingness to be not only hearers of the word but doers of the word. But you knew that, didn’t you?

Jesus used this same point at the end of His Sermon on the Mount. He said that the one who heard the word without doing it was like a man who built his house on the sand, but the one who heard God’s word and did it was like a man whose house was built on a rock and could withstand the inevitable storms of life and eternity Matthew 7:24-27.

Each of us has the responsibility to be doers of the Word. Some might say that this is another way of saying we must produce “works” in order that our relationship with God is secure. Depending on our good works to get an audience with the Lord is an illusion that vaporizes in the heat of the moment because the intent of doing good works is generated in ignorance of what God wants of us to do, and that is willing obedience to His Word. That is our choice in fulfilling James 1:2-4.