by Pastor Dave Koop
It is not “if” we have a trial – a difficult time that will test our trust in God – but “when”.
It is inevitable we will have a faith test. About 2000 years ago Pastor James, of the First Church of Jerusalem, gave some amazing insight into the questions that are on the faith test. Here are the questions on the test so you can prepare for them:
1. Will you rejoice or complain?
Billy Graham once said, “I have never seen God use a discouraged person yet.”
When a trial hits it is natural to want to complain about the situation, and you will find lots to moan about. The key to passing is to look for what you can rejoice and be thankful for. This is why Pastor James starts off his instructions for trials by saying: â€œConsider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.“ James 1:2
2. Will you run or stay?
One of the keys to overcoming life’s trials is patience. Patience is not passive, but is a confident expectation that God is going to come through on His promises, no matter how long it takes. To persevere and stay put takes great courage and causes our faith to grow up. James in his letter put it this way: “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:3,4
Patience is not passive, but is a confident expectation that God is going to come through on His promises, no matter how long it takes.
3. Will you seek wisdom or try to do it your own way?
You can Google information, but you can’t Google wisdom. In a fraction of a second you can retrieve a massive amount of information but this does not equate to wisdom. Webster defines wisdom as “to discern right and truth and to judge or act accordingly”. Remember: information only informs, it takes wisdom to transform.
If you want a better marriage – get wisdom. If you want better children – get wisdom. If you want a better community – get wisdom. If you want a better job/financial security – get wisdom. Pastor James tells us: “If any of you lacks wisdom (in your trial), you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5. God is the source of wisdom and He has not hidden it from you, but for you! He just expects you to ask in faith for it when you are faced with life’s various trials. God has a better way and He can guide you through the trial, but that requires you to humbly seek His guidance.
God is the source of wisdom and He has not hidden it from you, but for you!
4. Will you focus on the promise or the problem?
In his instructions, Pastor James goes on to tell us that if you focus on the problem, your life is going to get tossed around and pretty soon everything is unstable. He says: â€œBut 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.â€ â€“ James 1:6
I read this story once that described a donkey who had the good sense to look past the problem to see a source greater than himself. It goes like this:
One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. So he invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyones amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!
Moral: Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!
5. Will you trust God or money?
Pastor James makes the point that wisdom is worth more than money, something which Solomon also noted. (See Proverbs 16:16) In the Message Bible verse 10 reads this way: “Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it.”
Money is a powerful tool and it can be a great help in the challenges of life, but money alone will not rescue you. God makes it very clear that money is not to be your god. He knows it will let you down, but His promises will hold you no matter what the trial is.
6. Will you abide in the love of God or be drawn away by some temptation?
When you are under pressure in the middle of a trial you will find yourself tempted by the enemy, his tactic is to attack when we are weak. His common lie goes something like this: “God isn’t answering your prayers, remember how you such and such used to help you under pressure, try it again.” It was after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, that Satan came and tempted Him. Like Jesus, let God’s word be your rock and shield in times of temptation.
Regarding temptation when we are in a trial Pastor James instructions are: “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer. So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course.”
7. Will you walk in peace or let anger rule you when things are difficult?
Pastor James makes it clear that in the middle of a trial it is really important to listen more than you speak. He puts it this way: “My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done.” James 1:19,20
One of the best ways to speed up your way out of a trial is to intentionally listen to the perspectives of others. This will not come naturally, as you will want to vent what you are feeling and perhaps react with anger. If you feel anger stop and ask yourself these questions to keep a handle on things
What did I feel angry about today?
Where is my anger coming from?
Why did I feel so threatened that I believed my anger was a justifiable defense?
Why is my anger so intense over something so small?
Is my anger for the benefit of another or is it directed against another?
Did my anger further God’s interests or my own interests?
Did I provoke anger in someone else today?
Do I have all the facts about the issue that angers me?
8. Will you help others in the hard times or will you focus on yourself?
One of the greatest keys to winning in when you are in a trial is to do the very opposite of what you feel like doing, help others. Yet at the end of this chapter Pastor James gives one more valuable insight that keeps us from being corrupted in a broken world. He writes: “Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” – James 1:27