Monday, August 19, 2013
"When trouble comes your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that when your faith is tested,
you endurance has a chance to grow."
James 1: 2-3
I think all of us would agree that life is filled with tests, trials, sorrows and disappointments. Whether it is the loss of a job, the death of a loved one or facing a life-threatening illness like cancer, none of us are exempt from the everyday trials and tribulations that find a way to interrupt our hectic lives.
Suffering and trials will come our way and the question is, how will we respond to them?
My Facebook friend, Naghmeh Abedini says that we should embrace our trials.
Embrace our trials? Most of us, if we were honest, would rebel at such a proposition. It's human nature to want to run from trials and avoid them. Trials interrupt our comfort zone, creating chaos and fear, and our first reaction is to run from them, not embrace them.
Recently, Naghmeh Abedini was a guest on my live blog talk radio program, "The Cross in the desert." Naghmeh is the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is suffering for his Christian Faith in Evin Prison in Iran.
Naghmeh knows first hand what trials and tribulations are all about. She has been separated from her husband for over a year now and is left to raise their two beautiful children, Rebekah and Jacob. Her life has been turned upside down, but Naghmeh has chosen to face her circumstances head on without fear. Instead of running away from the pain and suffering, Naghmeh has boldly faced her trials by fully trusting in Christ. She has been very busy appearing at churches, media outlets, tv programs, to fight for her husband's freedom and speak out for the human rights of persecuted Christians all over the world. Through the incredible support from her Facebook friends, Naghmeh has organized a nationwide prayer vigil for her husband and all persecuted Christians, that will take place on September 26.
When I asked Naghmeh how she coped and handled the pressures of trials, she immediately responded by proclaiming that, "we should embrace our trials instead of running from them." When we embrace our trials, our faith and endurance will grow. This will be a great testimony to the watching world of the power of Christ in our lives. We can be an encouragement and example to others of what the Word of God is doing in our lives when we embrace our trials."
Naghmeh is right! This is what the Scriptures teach. James admonishes us in the midst of trials to, "consider it an opportunity for great joy."
Why would James instruct is to be embrace our trial with joy? Trials are anything but joyful. Sometimes they are very painful.
James gives us the reason to have a joyful attitude, he says, "when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow."
Trials "perfect" our faith and draw us closer to dependence on God. Without trials, our faith would not have an opportunity to grows. Let's face it! Trials reveal if our faith is genuine and for the Christian that is a very important test to pass!
The writer of Hebrews declared that, "
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross..." (Hebrews 12:3)
How could the pain and agony of the cross be an occasion for joy? The cross was an instrument of cruel death! Yet Jesus embraced his suffering and trial, knowing that his sacrificial death would bring salvation for the world.
On the night before his suffering, during prayer, Jesus cried out to his father in agony, "If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me."
Was Jesus afraid? Why did he pray that? Because on the cross, he would be bear the wrath of God for our sins and be separated from his father, something he had never experienced before.
Yet Jesus embraced his suffering, he didn't run away or cower in fear. The next part of the verse says, "Yet I want your will to be done, not mine!" (Matthew 27:39)
Jesus submitted to his trial. He embraced it. The result was our salvation.
Naghmeh is a beautiful example of her Savior, Jesus. She has embraced her trials knowing that God has a purpose and plan for her suffering. She is a great example of "grace under pressure" to all of her friends.
All of us can learn a valuable example from Naghmeh's patient endurance. Trials are never easy, but we have a perfect Savior who embraced them and because of that, we can now have an intimate relationship with God.