Rising to the Challenge
James is very blunt as he writes to Christians who are in trouble, just because they love Jesus. He says that trials/temptations (the same Greek word) will come to us. We don't know when the problems will come, how long they will last, how many or what they will be like; but we can be certain that every Christian's faith will be tested. Although we may not like it, we must face up to the reality, that was also true for Jesus; at some point, the world will hate us like it hated Him (John 15:18-21).
These trials may range from direct Satanic oppression, to persecution by others and fleshly temptations. They may include issues of health, relationships, finance or power; and can either affect us directly or through our community, family or church. In each case, the devil wants us to react in fear, despair, anger or anxiety; listening to his useless solutions to fix the problems. But the Lord is allowing them, so that we may learn to trust Him and to overcome the schemes of the Evil One, including our own inclination to give in to temptation. The Lord permits these things so that we can call on His wisdom, and strength to endure, and ultimately to overcome as He did.
So, every time such a trial comes, it acts as a test to prove that we are trusting Jesus. Each test that we pass to God's glory will make us more confident to trust Him when the next test comes. However, like at school, the further we go on in the school of faith, the examinations get harder! Ultimately we look for the Lord's prize when we see Him face to face (James 1:12). In the same way that the eager student is glad of an opportunity of little tests (to check progress) before the big examination, Christians should consider their trials as an opportunity to excel in applying the grace of God, and to prove His faithfulness. Often those challenges will come in the workplace. So watch out for them today, because the Lord is watching to see how well you do.
© Dr Paul Adams