Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.James 1:12 ESV
We all experience at different moments disappointments, failures, setbacks, frustrations, hardships and challenges in one form or another with varying degrees of difficulty. We sometimes need something, yet God has a different answer to our yearnings. Sometimes, it feels that God is not there – or even cares.
What is God’s mind when we face a trial? Does He treat us like pets, always wanting to make us happy? Or does He treat us as precious children of His, whom He is forming a character within like Jesus? To God, whether He grants our prayers or not, the result is probably not as crucial as the process of becoming like Christ in submitting and surrendering to God’s will. It is a lesson that cost Jesus His life – does God expect less from Jesus’ followers? That is why we can be at peace even when our world seems to be falling apart. The God of all creation, the universe, and all time is in complete control of everything. And He deeply loves and cares for our well-being.
Why does God care so much that we attain Jesus’ character? First, Jesus is the perfect version of Adam. Jesus represents the ideal man Adam was supposed to be, and we are to imitate the perfect person in God’s eyes. Second, God wants us to be in Jesus’ likeness because becoming like Jesus is good for us. When we become more loving, patient, kind, caring, and forgiving, we have peace and encounter lesser life problems. Of course, there is a price to pay to be like Jesus, but the fruit of a godly life is worth the trouble – both in this life and the next. We live with a free conscience. Our outlook in life is rosy. We can have an optimistic disposition in life. Third, God is a perfectly Holy God, and nothing impure can enter heaven who is not holy [See Isaiah 6:1-7]. This process of becoming like Jesus prepares us to meet God face to face and enter heaven with all the angels, martyrs and saints. God does not want us to be “at home” in this life because He has a life that is infinitely better than our current one. One day, we will laugh at the things we are distraught about at the moment.
God wants to use trials and hardships as sandpaper to trim our rough edges. Deep within us is an image of Jesus that needs some chiselling and trimming so that what is left is more and more like Jesus.
At the end of the day, how much faith and trust do we have that God loves us best and knows how to respond to our needs at the right time? We have tasted and seen the goodness of our Lord. Will He abandon us now?
Even during the darkest storms we face, we can be confident that God is there with us and for us. God wants us to be victors, not victims, in everything that happens to us in this life. We have God as our nearest and dearest friend. We have eternal life as our Inheritance. Even death itself is just a passageway to our hope and promise. What’s the worst that can happen?
What do we really need anyway? If God is with us, will he not supply everything we need? Doesn’t He know the best timing for us when to respond to our prayers? Doesn’t He know what is best for us?
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4 ESV
Personal Reflection or Group Sharing
1. When you face trials, how difficult is it to hang on trusting in God?
2. How much resistance do you give God when He is trimming and chiselling your rough edges?
Top image credit: photo of a carver with hammer and chisel smoothing rough edges on a marble statue, from Bigstock.com, © by Engineeer, stock photo ID: 99851723. Used with permission.
Tom Caballes is a National Coordinator of the Lamb of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with seven branches located throughout New Zealand. Tom and his wife Mhel and their two daughters [with his son-in-law and grand-daughter] live in Wellington, New Zealand.