Lessons from 2020: Trials Reveal Character
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4 NKJV). Considering trials as a reason for joy is a daunting challenge. Rather than resent unpleasant experiences, one must understand that there is always room for improvement. Additionally, keep in mind that it is the goal that matters. Dwelling on the past or being lost in despair over the present are not helpful. Paul anticipated the resurrection and so must we. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV).
Some of life’s hardest, yet most valuable, lessons are the realization of our faults. Recognition of our shortcomings coupled with undesirable circumstances make a perfect recipe for discouragement. Forgetting the purpose of trials leaves the door wide open for Satan. Pride prevents penitence and robs the joy that comes from humble appreciation of God’s blessings. Knowing that our work will ultimately be proved in judgment, isn’t is far better to accept testing now while the opportunity exists to make improvements? For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-15 NKJV).
Peter reminds us that we have a living hope and an undefiled inheritance waiting. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5 NKJV). This incredible hope is the basis for joy. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith–the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9 NKJV)
It is tempting to trust our own feelings, our own wishes and our own wisdom when facing difficult times. God knows the best way to improve our character just as He knows the best way to save our souls. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NKJV)
Accept trials. Accept refinement. Live in hope.