Courage in Trials

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (Js 1:2-5)

Meditation

In his book Back Door Blessings[1], Charles Swindoll explains James’ counsel on trials, “By accepting life’s tests and temptations as friends, we become men and women of mature character. There is no shortcut, no such thing as instant endurance. The pain brought on by interruptions and disappointments, by loss and failure, by accidents and disease, is the long and arduous road to maturity. There is no other road. But where does wisdom come in? It comes through the back door of life when we lean out the window and yell ‘Help!’ …When we have responded as we should to life’s blows, enduring them rather than escaping them, we are given more maturity that stays with us and new measures of wisdom which we are able to draw upon for the balance of our lives.” (emphasis added)

In his Transformation Bible preface entitled, “Courage in Trials”, Pastor Jeffrey Love states that trials test and sharpen believers in a variety of ways. 

Peter advises that we react with praise, gladness, great expectation and faith to trails because they refine us.  They complete us and prepare us for heavenly glory. (1 Pet 1:3-7)  

Moses tells us that Abraham’s trial to sacrifice Isaac revealed God in a new deeper way: Jehovah-Jireh is the God who provides. (Gen 22)

Paul explains that trials condition us, through experience and dependency, to be “comforted” so that we can comfort others. (2 Cor 1:3-7)  

Later in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains that faith grows Christlikeness in trials. We are pressed but not crushed.  We are perplexed but not driven to despair.  We are hunted but not abandoned.  We are knocked down but not destroyed. (2 Cor 4:7-10)

Solomon counsels that trials prove the weakness of a wicked foundation and the strength of a godly foundation. (Prov 10:25)

John Mark shows Jesus’ power over wind and waves while suggesting that the disciples’ faith should have given them courage. (Mk 4:35-41)

Moses commissioned Joshua to “Be strong and courageous” in the trials of battle as they entered Canaan. (Deut 31)

John, the Apostle, reminds us that we “trust a person” in trials.  We may not know the way but we trust the person who has prepared the Way.  (Jn 14:1-6)

The Psalmist reminds us, “He saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.  An so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth.” (Ps 116:8-9)

Application

John Eldredge writes about preparing men for battle[2]. Trials are not consequences for wrong doing. Trials are boot camp training tests.  Christian men are equipped with battle gear (Eph 6) to engage The World (i.e., the enemy around us), The Flesh (i.e., the enemy within us) and The Devil (i.e., the enemy in heavenly realms). (Eph 6:2)  Christian men endure trials as part of painful preparation for combat. Trials are the rope ladders and mud pits of boot camp preparation.  The path to biblical masculinity is paved with trials to challenge and strengthen men.  “Asking, seeking and knocking” (Mt 7:7-8) are calisthenics to strengthen experience, endurance and wisdom. They teach men to be intentional in their faith. 

“Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is.  -CS Lewis

“The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force” Mt 11:12 NASB

Spiritual growth is not a spectator sport.  Maturity comes on the practice field; not in the grandstands. Trials strengthen resolve in the face of life’s uncertainties, risks and adventures.  In 1989, Mark Simo, Brian Simo and Marty Moates created the “No Fear” clothing brand. As Christian men, we should adopt this no fear attitude toward trials … and engage them.  Trials are dangerous, beautiful and exhilarating no fear events.  As an avid climber, Eldredge sees similarities between scaling mountains and pushing through trials.  Like trials, climbing stretches our physical and emotional limits.  By facing and overcoming challenges, our faith and determination are strengthened. We become more tenacious. Our confidence grows as we experience God’s deliverance firsthand. Faith’s maturity reassures us that we are capable of overcoming even tougher trials.                

Next Steps

Courageously engage the trials that come today.

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship [distress, pressure, trouble] produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character [spiritual maturity]; and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. (Rom 3:3-4, AMP)


[1] Charles R. Swindoll, “Back Door Blessing,” in The Finishing Touch: Becoming God’s Masterpiece (Dallas: Word, 1994), 330-31. Copyright © 1994

[2] John Eldredge, Wild at Heart (2002) and Fathering by God (2009).