It Is Well (Trials)

Suffering comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors - physical suffering, emotional pain, relational trauma and spiritual torment. Suffering also comes in two ways: suffering is wanting what you do not have (security, health, intimacy...), and having what you do not want (sickness, pain, responsibilities...). No matter how big or small the suffering is, it is the conflict that results when we don't have what we want, or do have what we don't want.

We all know people who turn into worse versions of themselves when they are suffering.  They becomes selfish, mean, quick-tempered or angry. But we also know people who, even through immense suffering, become softer or gentler, more kind to themselves and others. Suffering can make you a better person or a worse one. It depends on how you respond.

When James is writing to the early church, he is writing to a church that has experienced immense suffering and persecution. The trials were endless, the oppression was severe and there was temptation to become cynical, mean, and angry. How can you respond to suffering? James  gives us four applications for us to consider.

Change Your Perspective On Suffering

James implores his church to adopt a new perspective on suffering and trials (1:2-4). James is not saying be joyful about your suffering, rather consider the end result of your suffering.  We know the end result, and that is life with Jesus!  But in our suffering, we have a chance to become more life Jesus, who suffered greatly for us. Therefore, take an eternal perspective on what God is doing in and through you.

Ask For Wisdom

Suffering is an opportunity to ask for wisdom. There is a promise that we will receive wisdom when we ask (1:5). Suffering can reveal where we lack wisdom and God is faithful to give it to us. So ask!

Practice Self-Examination

Allow troubles to trigger self-examination. Ask, “What is God doing in this situation?” instead of trying to escape it without reflection. God is at work all around us and especially in our suffering, and suffering can reveal truths about ourselves and also the lies we believe.

Shift Your Foundation

Defeat double-mindedness (1:6-8). Where are you building your house on sand instead of the rock? Where is your life on a flimsy foundation? Suffering exposes where our foundational faith is weakest and gives us the opportunity to shift our foundation to be more on the rock.