"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1; 2,3 NIV)
Do we preach the gospel by the way we react to trial and adversity?
To be able to rejoice in trials and in loss is truly the most amazing thing in the psychology of the Christian. How he faces trial and loss is truly unique and rare, something that you simply do not see in those who are unreconciledto God. How one faces life's hardships reveals what is on the inside of them, what is their relationship to God, what is the state of their souls.
To do as James exhorts, in the above passage, is absolutely impossible for those who are spiritually impotent. Carnal and sinful man is simply not able to view and react to trial and loss in this manner. It is the common reaction of fallen man to "curse" God when they suffer misfortune. Such is not the habit of the Christian.Rather, he views his trials in the light of the revelation of holy scripture, and by his faith and trust in the Lord, he views his circumstances in a much better and truer light than do those who do not "know the Lord."
Adverse circumstances are viewed by the Christian as "opportunities" for him to demonstrate the Christian message to others. He is, by his calm endurance of trial, by his lack of murmurring and complaining, by hisjoy in the midst of suffering, able to picture forth the kind of life that Christ gives to those who come to him. By such a spirit in sufferings many a sinner has been won to Christ and his salvation.
Peter spoke of wives living the Christian life, with a "meek and quiet spirit," even with ungodly husbands, and who are able, nevertheless,by their joy and by their reaction to adversity, todemonstrate the power of the Christian lifeandmessage, and all this without orally preaching the word. Such are won to Christ and the Christian religion "without the word," that is, without oral teaching, won by the godly example of their wives. What a great lesson for us who are truly Christians! (See I Peter 3: 1-4)
"What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." (Psalm 56: 3)
That is a "coping mechanism" of the mature Christian. When he faces trial, when he is afraid and anxious about things, he turns to the Lord in faith and trusts in him.
"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." (Psalm 5; 3)
When troubles dawn in our lives, do we seek the Lord early in it? Or, do we seek to other "physicians of no value"? (Job 13: 4) Do we see these trials as opportunities for us to glorify Christ?
The great Apostle Paul saw them this way. He suffered from a terrible physical malady, a "messenger of Satan," and he sought the Lord's deliverance from it. The Lord replied to him - "My grace is sufficient for you." Paul then responded to this word by saying -
"Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying..." (II Corinthians 12: 9-11)
Here is the "coping mechanism" of the Christian at work in Paul. Rather than reacting to adversity and loss with murmurring and complaint, with cursing to God, he reacts with joy and pleasure,happy to be suffering. Is this crazy? Yes, by the world's estimation, it is. Yet, how many people have been won to Christ by seeing such power and such a spirit in the lives of those who suffer? Paul saw his sufferings as opportunities to magnify and preach the power and grace of the Lord.
"Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." (Job 1: 20-22)
Here Job reacts as did Paul. Job's wife wanted him to "curse God and die." That was not his way to cope and react. He rathergave God praise. The world does not understand this.
Friend, how are you coping with life and its trials? Do you curse God? Do you blame him? Do you "charge God foolishly"? Are you not amazed at the way believers react to trial and loss? at their ability to persevere? at their ability to rejoice in suffering? You too can have that kind of faith and spirit.