James 1:2-5 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
I know a number of people who are going through really difficult times right now. Some are grieving. Some are beaten down with discouragement. Some are hurting from betrayal. Some are facing overwhelming challenges. Some are battling a life-threatening illness. Perhaps you are one of them. Your faith is being challenged. Your heart is growing weary. Your emotions are raw and you don’t know how much more you can take.
Even in our most difficult and trying days, we must not forget God still has a plan and purpose for us. Here are just four of those purposes:
1. Difficult days are intended to build our character.
Notice the emphasis on character in these verses. God is primarily interested in our character and not our comfort. He allows difficult days to build our character and deepen our relationship with Him.
2. Difficult days reveal the real you.
Without trials and hardship, you don’t really know who you are and what you are made of. When you are under pressure, what’s inside comes out. Some of the things that come out are good – trust in God, hope for the future, peace in the storm. But, some of the things aren’t so good – fear, anger, frustration, impatience, selfishness. God wants to expose those things. He brings them to the surface because He intends to deliver us from them.
3. Difficult days tend to clarify our values.
Hardship and heartbreak lead us to eternal values. We begin to value God and His Word more than temporary things. We find that the stuff we have accumulated can’t bring us comfort or peace. All of our achievements and possessions will not give us the love or grace we need. Hardship teaches us to value the eternal riches of Christ.
4. Difficult days draw us closer to the Father.
They cause us to seek the Lord for wisdom, for strength, for guidance, for protection, for provision, and for help. What these difficult days reveal is that we have a Father who genuinely cares about us and is so faithful to meet our needs. We don’t learn this any other way. We only learn about God’s faithfulness, goodness, and mercy when we go through the most difficult and painful trials. He is faithful. He is good. He is in control and He really cares.
Pastor, if you are facing difficult days, you don’t have to face them alone. Reach out to us at careforpastors.org.