I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but trials tend to bring out the worst in us. They catch us off guard and bring out what’s on the inside. Our secret doubts about life’s fairness. Our hidden fears about God’s goodness. Our anger, anxiety, bitterness and cynicism. Our selfishness and small mindedness. Our proclivity to control. All these things seem to bubble to the surface when the chips are down.
Most of us, don’t like what comes out of us when we face trials. I know this is true for me. I don’t like the way I lash out at the people closest to me or the stress induced headaches or the controlling beast that takes over my relationships. I hate feeling anxious and annoyed. And yet, it seems these are the default actions I go to when life heads in an unplanned or unwanted direction.
And so lately I’ve been asking this question. Is there a way to walk through trials full of joy, hope and peace?
I was reading James 1:1 – 12 the other day. And I found some helpful and simple guidance. (Notice I didn’t say anything about it being easy.) Anyways, in James 1, God says he uses trials to shape character. In other words, trials exist to help you and me become the people God wants us to be.
Obviously this doesn’t happen by putting our head down and gutting it through. Nor does it happen by throwing in the towel halfway through. Nor does it happen by getting stressed out and anxious. So how does it happen?
God seems to say in James that it happens as we look up and make an intentional choice to be joyful, to offer him a surrendered will and to cultivate a heart that believe the best. I know this advice sounds simplistic but what if handling trials is simpler than we make it? What if it’s something even a child could do it. What if we made the choice to be joyfully? What if we lived a God I’m trusting you kind of life? What if we cultivated a heart that believed God was allowing hardship into our lives to shape us into his image. I think if we made these hard but simple choices our trials would become some of the greatest catalysts for growth and maturity.
In short, I think, if we face our trials God’s way, God will begin to have his way in us. I’m not saying this is easy, but I am learning it’s more simple than we make it. So today I’m choosing to be joyful. I’m choosing to offer God a surrendered will. And I’m choosing to cultivate a heart that believes the best is yet to come.