I think this is a question that so many ask. How can an ever-loving God allow bad things to happen? The very first thing that comes to my mind is that God gave us free will to make our own decisions…both good and bad. But also, we are sinners and will always be. Sin surrounds us and no amount of good works changes that. There is nothing we can do to change who we are…but God loves us regardless. Let’s dig in a bit to a question that I’m not sure is ever answered, but maybe we can find a little more peace as to not the why, but just that trials happen.
It all begins by reading, study, and understanding God’s Word. Something that this journey is teaching me. You see, I’m not one who can in the middle of a conversation just give you a verse from the bible. But I’m learning that what is in the bible is all I need to help me understand what God is telling me. The first chapter of James is where we find our verse of the week, but the first 18 verses, titled “Trials and Temptation” really offer some comfort and help remind us of the love God has for us…even in our trails. Remember, studying the bible is about context…not just a verse or two.
Trials and Temptations
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all he created. (James 1:2-18)
There are two types of trials and we will look at both of them. The first kind are trials caused by our choices, and the second are trials authored by God’s Hand. Let’s concluded today by looking at trials caused by our own choices.
Trials Caused By Our Choices
If you are anything like me, how often have you said, “if only…”. Yes, the IF ONLY statement. Controlling one’s tongue can often be the main factor in trials. Once it comes out of our mouths, we cannot in any way take it back. Of course, our actions have just as much to do with it, but I do believe that words can hurt more.
Now, I can easily think of two acts in the bible that brought trials by self-choices. Adam and Eve, and King David. And to this day, we experience trials because of that first sin…of choice…to eat the apple. King David had an affair, and his choices led to more bad choices…murder. The consequences was from God, but still because of the choices King David made…his son died.
Let’s step into today and the here and now. I think of my own marriage. Is it perfect? Of course not, and it’s not even fair to try and make it perfect…but I do, and that is when I bring on my own trials because I’m unwilling to accept that things cannot be perfect.
My actions (or reactions) can cause defenses to come out, disagreements can easily occur and suddenly I can have a husband that wonders why he’s even trying to do something because I just seem to complain…or vice versa…you get my point. Or at work, I probably just make things a bit harder than they need to be, thus putting more on edge and causing an over reaction. Frustration can quickly set in and again, I’m the cause of my own trial. It’s nearly a never-ending cycle.
Remember, God gave us free will, so we live with the consequences of our choices…all of our choices. Let’s concluded today by looking at four verses from the chapter that tell us exactly what God expects of us in regards to our speech. Each verse tells a different way to respond.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
A gentle answer turns away wrath,but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
Fools give full vent to their rage,but the wise bring calm in the end. (Proverbs 29:11)
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
And now, I have armed myself with God’s Word to help think before speaking! God’s grace will get me through the situations in which I forget His Word, but by being in His Word, I can’t help but remember the tools He has given me in order to better understand a trials and how to deal with them as they arise. Remember, it’s not if trials come, because they will, but rather when, and what our reaction is as to how we deal with them.