Tried and True
“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 nothing.” (James 1:2, ESV)
When it comes to this verse, it’s easy to conclude that it must take an unusually spiritual person to be able to count it all joy when hardship strikes our faith. If someone gave you this advice, you might even think they were a bit out of touch with the common man. For what normal person would consider trials (meant to be difficult) to be full joy.
Maybe with enough spiritual maturity, you might be able to conjure up some partial joy in a trial, but to “count it full joy” would be like saying that of all the places you could be, you should consider the middle of a trial to be the best kind of place.
Kids experience full joy on a playground, especially when they are in the middle of a great imaginary game with their friends. But when Mom says it’s time to go, they suddenly realize that their joyful experience is about to end and some of them don’t take it very well. But if the way a child feels on a playground is how I should be feeling in a trial, that connection is difficult to understand.
So, let’s talk about something else:
Have you ever purchased anything expensive on Amazon? The difficult thing about internet products is that unlike the local store, you can’t test them out in-person. There is always a risk that what you’re buying is a total rip off and when you finally count the cost and receive it, you’ve wasted precious resources on garbage.
Well, amazon did something to ease people’s minds. It’s called a customer product review. Amazon cleverly places this review right next to the product you’re looking at. This way you can see how many people reviewed the item and what the average score was. Now you can rest your confidence on the opinion of real consumers, not the opinion of the company selling the item.
When my friend Mike bought an axe for splitting firewood, he may have been more excited about finding one with 1400 5-star reviews than anything else! The consumer trials made an exciting impression on him. As a result: he bought it.
Now if everyone who bought one of those axes based their reviews off of how nice the axe looked in the box, those reviews would be entirely useless. That’s because axes are meant to cut wood. Being in the box is not doing any good for anybody. That axe is only good for one thing, and unless it gets tested, how will anyone know if it’s worth the cost?
Fortunately, the people who bought those axes couldn’t wait to try them out! They cared very little about how dirty they would get or if the paint would last. They put that tool to work and as a result we know the axe is praise-worthy because people just couldn’t keep quiet about it. They were pleased with the result and they left a review for others to know that the value is well worth the cost.
Okay back to the Bible:
Jesus said that whoever believes in him would not remain in darkness (John 12:46). This means that while the rest of the world experiences trials in the dark, we experience trials in the light of our faith. If two people are walking, you wouldn’t know which one was blind until an obstacle was placed in their way.
When God brings obstacles, he is putting the faith he gave you on display for the world to see that Jesus is worth the cost of discipleship. The value of Christianity cannot be displayed by a lack of trials. It is best displayed when it’s demolishing the competition in trial.
If you’ve placed your faith in the Gospel for the remission of your sin, not only should you sink that faith deep into the hardship you will encounter, you should utterly enjoy the activity! While everyone else’s faith in anything but Jesus leaves them down and out, you’ll undoubtedly see that our faith is perfect, complete and lacking nothing! When you experience the value of your faith, you’ll be praising God as a result! You’ll be telling everyone how great Jesus is and how!
That kind of review will be helpful to those who don’t have faith in our Lord. After all, they may be counting the cost of receiving Jesus and wondering if it’s a total rip off, but after hearing about your trial, they just might buy it.