Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Proving Ground

“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

These verses in James are familiar to most of us. They are a source of comfort when we face the worst, because we know God is at work in us through the circumstance to make us complete. Without the trial, we would be incomplete-- lacking something. And so we can face the circumstance with joy.

The word trial (or in some translations, test) is translated from the Greek peirasmos. What is interesting is that we get both trial and temptation from this very same word. Only the context determines the nuance of meaning intended by the author. However, in both cases, the testing does give us an opportunity to demonstrate our character. (James uses the second meaning when he gets to 1:13).

One of my seminary professors, Dr. Richard Yates, gave us an interesting insight into the idea of testing in class yesterday. He pointed out that the tests indicated in James 1:2-4 serve a purpose to those around us in addition to our own spiritual development. The character of our faith is proved to those who are watching us endure the trial. Over a decade ago, Dr. and Mrs. Yates tragically lost a son in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Before the accident, they had faithfully shared their faith with their neighbors and friends with no response. But after the accident, as these same people witnessed the Yates continuing to trust God in their terrible grief, they got interested. What was it that sustained this couple? Suddenly the neighbors were all ears. Coming through the trial was proof positive that the Yates believed in a living, faithful God to those who were watching.

Not that a trial always consists of grief, but in my own life I have also had this same truth demonstrated. I was not ready to say good-bye to my mother when she died. She was only 69 and still had so much life to live. I still needed my mom. My sister Margie’s children were very young. They would have very few memories of their grandmother. Margie and I struggled under the terrible load of crushing grief for two long years. Yet since coming through the trial, I can see how God used even such a horrendous circumstance to demonstrate His glory to those around me. The journey I experienced eventually became the first chapter of my book, written to remind sisters in Christ of God’s faithfulness and wisdom within the challenges of life. I tell the story over and over again, because I know my trial serves as an encouragement to others of the hope we have in Christ.

Have you had a trial that eventually served to demonstrate spiritual truth to others? I’d love to hear your story! Please share your experience in the comments, so we can praise God together for how He is at work through every circumstance!

1 comment:

Dave said...

You are a blogging machine! I, too, love this passage. Above my desk I have a little 3x5 card with a stick figure drawn on it. I have red arrows pointed towards it, representing the peirasmos of the test, and green arrows pointed away, representing the peirasmos of avoiding the temptation. It is a reminder to me to always seek to serve God no matter what situation I find myself in, knowing that He receives all the glory from my sanctification.