Over the last few weeks we have been looking at how God invites us to face the trials of life. The Book of James is rich and deep in its counsel, and I believe that God is using His Word to impact many of us.
One of the tensions that you may feel when you read about suffering or hear a sermon on trials is that your trials "aren't that big". Don't get me wrong... they hurt but they might not seem like that big of a deal to other people. There is a temptation at this point to ignore the instruction God offers by assuming it is only for "big" trials. I want to assure that God's direction for us is regarding all trials of all sizes. Don't forget that James 1:2 says "Count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds". God knows that not all trials are the same and He also knows that the same trial may be experienced very differently by different people. God's invitation to grow complete by faithfully enduring your trials while applying his wisdom really is for all trials. So, whatever trial you are facing - whether "normal" or severe - ask for God's wisdom and he will give it to you generously.
As a point of encouragement, here is a prayer that Scotty Smith wrote called "A Prayer About Normal Trials" based on 1 Peter 1:3-7. If you can relate, why not pray it directly to God?
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:3-7
Heavenly Father, today I need a fresh supply of persevering grace, for the “all kinds of trials” of life are sapping my spirit and weighing me down. I need the assurance of knowing you are actively at work refining my faith even through the kinds of minor challenges and difficulties I face on a daily basis. I feel tired, weary, disillusioned and a slow simmering anger is emerging in my spirit. A part of me just says, “Buck-up, you woosie-whiner!” But I think the gospel offers a better way.
Honestly, I’m embarrassed to even speak of my trials, because I didn’t go to sleep hungry or thirsty last night; I didn’t hear gunfire echoing through my neighborhood; there’s no plague pillaging my community; I don’t live with the fear of my children being sold into slavery; my government isn’t threatening the exercise of my faith. These are realities with which many of my brothers and sisters in Christ live on a daily basis.
For me, it’s more like swimming in a pool of tiny piranha just nibbling away at my joy, energy, and peace. So, Jesus, please give me grace perfectly suited for the demands and the daily-ness of normal life… in this body with aging joints and a leaking memory; among fellow sinner-saints who, like me, love inconsistently; in unresolved stories from the past; in present stories of brokenness and weakness, for which heaven alone offers the final cure; in the face of minor injustices and a lack of common mercies; when cars, plumbing, air-conditioners, and other stuff just break; when people don’t say “Thank you”, people drive like maniacs, and pets pee on the carpet…
Lord in all these things, I want your hand and heart to be at work. I want to know what a man of faith looks like, not just when I am praying for daily bread or facing a firing squad, but when I’m living out the implications of the gospel in the daily messiness of normal life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.