Updated: May 13, 2020
We live in a fallen world where creation groans under the consequences of our sin. In this world, we see pain, sickness, heartache, sin, poverty, inhumanity, injustice, death, and the list goes on. But God does not intend His world to be like this forever. He is restoring His creation through Jesus Christ. Jesus said that “in this world, we will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4
Trials are inevitable. The question is how are we as Christians to respond in the midst of hard times? James encourages us to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials (James 1:2). Why? Because God ordained these trials to test our faith. Our faith needs to be tested in order for us to grow. We don’t grow jumping from mountain top to mountain top. If Jesus had to go through the valley of death to move into His destiny so will His followers (Philippians 2:5-9).
It is good for us to go through trials, that we may know the statutes of the Lord (Psalms 119:71). Through many tribulations, we enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). God turns our hard times into opportunities to discover Him and move toward His plans and purposes for our lives. Everything that God brings into our lives is directed to one purpose, that we might be conformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28).
Hard times only test our faith and reveals what we truly believe. If you want to know what you truly believe, simply look at your actions during hard times. It is not what you say that shows what you truly believe, it is what you do that shows what you truly believe. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). We don’t always live according to what we say we believe, but we will always live according to what we actually believe.
God’s goal for our lives is to become more and more like Jesus in character. Paul tells us to rejoice in our trials, knowing that these trials bring about perseverance; and perseverance, godly character (Romans 5:3-4). God wants us to grow in our faith. We grow in our faith by getting into the Word of God (Romans 10:17). God will often put us in a situation where we can choose whether to put our faith in Him or something else, in order to help us grow our faith.
As believers we are not to avoid trials or hard times, we need to learn to find God in both the valleys and the mountain tops. In the midst of trouble in this world, we can consider it all joy, knowing that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).