The Joy of Trials

by Pastor Nikki Ragush

This week I had the opportunity to read through the book of James, it is by far one of my favorite books of the Bible as it continues to challenge me each time I read it. In college I was actually challenged in one of my classes to memorize this book and after that experience I quickly fell in love with all that the writer had to say. However, the book of James is not the type of book you read to feel simply encouraged but many times after I read this book I was away feeling the need to reexamine parts of my life. James challenges me in so many ways but I will pick one that comes within the first couple of verse of reading this book.

James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

Personally I don’t enjoy going through difficult situations; I like when things are easy, people get along, and life simply falls into place neatly. James was a bit more of a realist though, he understood that sometimes life hands us situations we don’t enjoy and many times that we think we can’t get through. I’m not sure what you are particularly going through today but I know it’s easier to embrace this idea when I’m at a point of reflection, when I am actually going through difficult situations I find it very hard to agree with this.

I’ve been given many opportunities in my life to talk to others about their spiritual walks I’ve seen many different responses including (but not limited to) anger, sadness, frustration, and confusion. I’ve experienced these same feelings and no matter what people say to you it’s very difficult to simply be joyful and truly mean it. The saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” may be true, but in the moment it doesn’t fix the hurt or the pain that is being felt at that time.

Even though I know I must go through times of trial I rarely jump at the opportunity to be tested in this way; however I continue to realize how I need these times. I would never have learned how to walk without falling on my face several times, I wouldn’t be able to tie my shoes now if I hadn’t gone through hours of tears and frustration, and my faith in God would not be as strong if I had not had those times when I most needed to depend completely on him. I remember a time in college where my prayer life began to completely change. I was in a difficult situation I prayed something I had never understood fully before that moment; I prayed “God not my will but yours be done” I completely submitted whatever the future was to him be it easy or difficult. Since then life has not gotten easier and I still don’t enjoy any sort of conflict with people or big changes in plans. However, I am learning to embrace the times in life where we have the ability to grow. The times that have shaped me most are those which I couldn’t understand the reason for in that moment.