Encountering Trials? Consider it Joy
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance.” — James 1:2–3
This year, 2018, has been a year of great blessing. We have witnessed God at work in so many ways: new leaders, new classes, and new people equipped with the skills of how to study their Bible using the inductive Bible study method. We’ve also been blessed with a new buildinghere in Brantford, and we’re excited for how God will use this building for His glory.
This has also been a year with many challenges—not only for the staff, but also for our Bible study leaders in Canada. In February, the federal government instituted a clause that requiredall those wanting funding for summer jobs to agree with the government’s stance on issues like abortion, gender, marriage, and a few other values. Precept could not attest to these values, and did not accept funding from the federal government. In Alberta, Christian schools are facing a significant challenge from their local government: the loss of funding and accreditation if they do not remove their key biblical values from their mandate.
Persecution of the Christian faith is not coming as we’ve been talking about; it has already arrived. So how do we deal with it? Here are four ways to get us through these challenges:
1. Find Joy
James was writing to believers facing suffering and persecution as well, and he told them to consider it all joy. We’ve heard this, read this, can rhyme it off by memory—but do we get it? To count it all joy, it takes a conscious effort to view these trials and challenges with a biblical perspective, knowing that God is sovereign and nothing in this world happens without His permission.
The idea that we’re to delight and rejoice in our trials is probably the hardest part to grasp. Let me take this a bit further for you. The word “joy”, chara in the Greek, is also used in Matthew 2:10 and Matthew 28:8. If those verses don’t ring a bell, you should look them up. The word “joy” in both verses describe the joy at the birth of Jesus Christ, and the news of His resurrection. James is telling us to have the same joy in response to trials as we would at the two most crucial events in the history of Christianity.
When was the last time you responded to a trial in the way you celebrate Christmas and Easter? How do we find this joy? It can only be found in the wisdom of God when we ask for it through prayer.
Persecution of the Christian faith is not coming as we’ve been talking about; it has already arrived.
2. View the World through the Eyes of God
The wisdom of God changes our perspective. Have you ever used a pair of binoculars? When you look through the proper end of the binoculars, everything is closer to you; that’s the point of them. I like to use them at my cottage to look across the lake and to watch and see if the guy fishing is catching any fish.
Have you ever looked through the wrong end of the binoculars? Everything is now far away. It’s hilarious when you have someone right in front of you, but they look so far away. This is what the wisdom of God does: it elevates us mentally out of the trial, to get a distant view of the trial. During a trial, we’re so focused on what’s right in front of us—every situation, every moment, there’s another huge hurdle to get over. But through the wisdom of God, we have a greater understanding of the trial, and its result in our lives. The result, as James tells us, is spiritual maturity.
This is what the wisdom of God does: it elevates us mentally out of the trial…
3. Be a Doer of the Word
Trials and persecution are a call to action. If you look around the world, some of the greatest work for the gospel is happening in areas where there’s suffering. Thousands of people are coming to Christ in Ukraine, Eurasia, and Africa as people stand for truth.
Our call is to be active not only in pursuit of Christ-likeness, but also in discipleship of others. When the world presents their perceived truth, we follow the example of Ephesians and are clothed in the armour of God. We hold high the sword of the Spirit, and proclaim God’s truth to the faithful students He has given to us.
As we disciple students in the Word of God, we also need to remember that they not only look to us for our skills in teaching, they also watch that our words and actions line up. That we’re more than hearers of the word, but we’re also living it out daily.
Our call is to be active not only in pursuit of Christ-likeness, but also in discipleship of others.
4. Use your Resources Wisely
As we wrap up 2018, remember that we’re at war. Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places”
During trial—when we find joy, when we view the world biblically, and act—we’re called to use our resources wisely. This is not just a call to financial partnership, but also a call for an internal look at how we spend our time.
The world shows us how they spend their time when they believe their rights and freedoms are under attack. They line the streets in protest, act on social media, and shout from their rooftops for their cause. I firmly believe we’re called to be in the world and not of the world—so our resources should be used for the glorification and furtherance of the Kingdom of God.
If you stand with me in this, let’s act together and spread the truth of God’s Word through Precept Ministries. When you give the gift of your time and finances, it will bear fruit for the Kingdom of God, because our biblically sound Bible studies and excellent training workshops are equipping thousands of new people to study truth using the Precept Inductive Study Method.
God is at work through Precept! Lives are being changed for His glory. We will make a difference in Canada by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Join us in partnership today!
Precept Ministries International (Canada), National Director
Yes, I want to partner with Precept so they can continue to raise up and train Bible Study Leaders across Canada!