I’ve been wanting to write this blog for a while now but really didn’t know how to articulate what was in my heart. I want this to be a message of hope for those of you that have been in a season of trials. The bible makes it clear that we are to consider it joy when we are in a trial of any kind. James 1 verse 3 says, "...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."
Although James’ directive is important, it’s very difficult to “consider it joy” in a season of testing. I think, in part it’s because we have a wrong idea as to why we are being tested. As human beings, we associate any type of discipline with doing something wrong. After all, that’s what we have experienced. As children, we associate discipline with punishment. We are disciplined because we didn’t obey or we were naughty. As adults, we experience disciplinary actions in our work place if our performance is not up to standard.
Our default in a time of testing is to automatically assume that we have done something wrong or that our performance is not up to snuff and that God is punishing us to teach us. Another default is to assume that we must have gotten off track and as such, we are going through a trial so that we get our act together. Sadly I think that this is rarely the case. If you are following the Lord to the best of your ability, then you need to trust what the Word of God actually says. In Psalm 37:23 it says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (NIV). If you have given your life to the Lord and you are intentionally serving him, then you need to trust that you are not off track and that God is directing your steps and also delighting in every detail of your life. Now, if you aren’t intentionally serving him and instead, doing your own thing, then this message is not necessarily for you.
Over and over in the bible I see examples of God allowing those he had chosen and was pleased with to go through trials. The trial always brings about God’s full plan. The trial allows the individual to grow and come into maturity. We see this with Moses, with the Israelites in the desert, with David and many others. My favourite example is of Joseph. Joseph, for all intents and purposes was his father’s favourite. He was given special treatment, a beautiful coat and amazing prophetic dreams from God regarding his destiny. I imagine that had Joseph gone on to realize his destiny without any trials, he would have been a spoiled egomaniac that thought that he had accomplished it all on his own. Instead, God allowed the unthinkable to happen to Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He prospered in his masters house until he was falsely accused and thrown into prison. There he sat for many years. The verses that I have taken comfort in over my own personal trials are found in Psalm 105:17-22, “He sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him. The king sent and released him, The ruler of the people let him go free. He made him lord of his house, And ruler of all his possessions, To bind his princes at his pleasure, And teach his elders wisdom.” (NKJV)
God had a major plan to save his people that involved Joseph. Joseph knew that his dreams were from the Lord and that he had a major destiny in God. I am positive that he didn’t expect that it would come to pass through the betrayal of his brothers, enslavement, false accusation and imprisonment. My guess is that many times, he doubted that he had heard from God rightly. Maybe he wondered if the prophetic dream that he had was now not possible due to his circumstances. His circumstances were indeed grim. He was totally immobilized by his prison. The only future that was on the horizon was what that of the four walls of his cell. “Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.” Right up to the very second that his word came to fruition, it was testing him. It didn’t seem likely but in a matter of a day, Joseph went from a prison cell to living and walking in the authority of a king. An impossible reality made possible only through God. It was in the trials that Joseph learned to truly rely on and trust in God.
I want to encourage you that until the time that the word of the Lord is to come to pass in your own life that you are being tested. The only way that you will fail this test is if you give up. DON”T QUIT BELIEVING for the impossible in God. DON’T QUIT BELIEVING in the promises found in the Bible. Instead, consider it an opportunity to grow in faith, perseverance and maturity. It isn’t easy but all things are possible with God who gives us strength. Hold on to your promises. Hold on to the prophetic words. Hold on to the dreams that God has placed in your heart. Lean heavily on the strength of the Holy Spirit. Faith is produced in hoping for things that are yet to be realized. Until that promise, word or dream comes to pass, you are being trained up!! Remember that God is directing your path and he is delighting in every detail of your life. Remember that your Father is a really good dad that has your best interests at heart. You aren’t in this trial because you have done something wrong. You are in this trial because God is getting you ready for your destiny. I don’t know about you, but for me, this makes “considering it joy” just a bit easier.
-Maria Collett – Associate Director of House of Prayer Edmonton