By Zac Poonen
Apostle James says in James 1:2 “Consider it all joy when you encounter various types of trials”. If your faith is genuine, you will rejoice when you face trials – for that is like putting the 1000-rupee note under the scanner to check whether it is real or not. Why should you be afraid of that? If your faith is counterfeit isn’t it better to know now rather than at Christ’s judgement-seat? So it is good that God brings you into some trial now so that you can know for certain whether your faith is genuine or not. So rejoice! If you are building a house, wouldn’t it be better if an earthquake came while you were still laying the foundation and not after you completed the house? If the foundation is shaky, you can rectify it immediately. Even so, it is good to go through trials, at the very beginning of your Christian life. You may say, “I trust in the Lord.” But when you get into a little financial difficulty, you start worrying and complaining. Maybe you are sick and you start questioning God. Or perhaps you get some opposition from men and you get discouraged and lose your faith. All these trials would prove to you that your faith was not really genuine.
Further, trials also produce the virtue of patience in us. We always need patience (endurance) along with our faith. If we allow this endurance to complete its work in us, it will make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:4). Consider this goal – “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. Do you want to get there? The way there is through trial. There is no other way to get there. We haven’t got there yet, and so we need to go through many more trials. If I have acquired any spiritual value in my life, it is through the trials that the Lord has taken me through. But I have to go through many more trials to reach that goal of ‘perfect, complete, lacking in nothing.’ That is God’s goal for all of us. Don’t get discouraged if you discover through some trial that your faith was not genuine. Thank God for showing it to you, and ask Him to give you genuine faith. God will give it to you.
Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 1:7 that the purpose of all the trials is to prove the genuineness of your faith – like “gold tested in the fire”. When gold is dug from the depths of the earth it is not pure. The only way to purify it is by putting it into the fire. You can’t purify gold by scrubbing it with soap and water. That only removes the dirt. But to remove the metals that are mixed in the gold, it has to be put into the fire. Then all the alloys in it are melted away and the pure gold comes forth. The trials you go through can be fiery. It hurts, and you feel as if you are in the fire. The only purpose is to get rid of things in your life that are impure.
God allows all His children to face trials. In His great wisdom, He knows exactly when to send them. When we stand before the Lord, we will discover that God never made a single mistake in any of the trials He allowed in our lives. Every single trial He allowed in our lives, we will discover in that day, was to purify us as gold. If you believe that, you will praise the Lord at all times. You will have inexpressible joy in the midst of your trials – and that will result in the salvation of your soul. This is the salvation that the prophets in past times sought to understand, but could not. Even the angels long to look into this (1 Peter 1:12). But now the Holy Spirit sent from heaven has anointed people who preach this gospel. So, Peter says, since we have such a wonderful gospel, and we have to go through these trials only for a short period, we should sharpen our minds looking forward to the coming of Christ and not be disturbed by the trials that we face (1 Peter 1:13).