“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 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 1:2-4 (NIV)
As physicians, we live and work in a world in which we regularly encounter people enduring trials. Initially these trials present themselves as physical ailments in need of treatment. Often in the course of our interaction with patients, we may also encounter deeper trials such as financial difficulties or family problems. In addition, eventually we will find ourselves facing our own trials such as an ugly lawsuit or a physical ailment of our own.
James helps us understand that trials are not random. He teaches us that every trial has a trajectory.
To understand that trajectory, we must first realize that every trial is a test of our faith. In fact, that’s one way in which we can define a trial. Anytime our faith in God is being tested, whether through some financial difficulty, our professional career, our family life, or some difficult situation that presents itself to us, we are experiencing a trial. Even temptations, which in actuality test our faith, can be understood as a form of a trial.
When our faith is being tested, it really is the trustworthiness of God that is being tested. Is God going to come through for me in this situation?
One of the dangers in the Christian life is to place unbiblical expectations upon God during these trying times. For example, Scripture never promises us that we won’t periodically experience painful events in our lives. We will experience the loss of loved ones, sometimes tragically. We will at times suffer physically from disease. We will witness premature deaths in our patients, and occasionally within our family.
God doesn’t promise that we won’t witness and experience these painful trials in our life. But He does promise to use them in positive ways. His ability to do that depends ultimately on how we respond to trials.
That response should start first with recognizing that God is in control and has a trajectory for the trial. In spite of the pain and outward appearance…trust Him.
Prayer: Lord help me lead others and myself to trust You in the midst of trials.