“Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3
All of us have experienced storms in our lives, even those who seemed to be so care-free they seem to sail through life happily. Though all of us will undeniably wish that we can have a problem-free life, God still allows the storms as they are essential for our growth in Him.
However, many Christians find it hard to survive the storms in their life. I believe that one of the keys to our victory over the storms in our lives is our attitude towards our circumstances.
WHAT ARE STORMS FOR?
This is a question everyone will ask initially. Why does God allow us to go through trials?
- That God may be glorified through it. Each time we overcome a storm, all the glory goes to God. Our victory is a testimony to the people around us that our God is capable to deliver us even under the most difficult circumstances. It shows them that what is impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18:27).
- To develop perseverance (James 2:3,4). The testing of our faith produces perseverance. Our trials are lessons for us to learn, with the purpose of developing our character. Perseverance and faith are not things which can be learnt overnight—they require time and much effort. The journey is a difficult one, and that is why many call it ‘the school of hard knocks’. It is a place where we learn to be the person God has created us to be.
- So that we will learn to ask from God and know of His goodness (James 1:5). Until and unless you are going through a difficult time in your life, you will never know how good God is. Imagine that you are always on the mountaintop, you will not know the joy of being there after having gone through a dark time in the valley. Much too often we take for granted what God has given us that He will have to take us to the valley again so we will learn to appreciate the mountaintop. It is while we are in the valley that we learn to cry out to God and ask for help. It is there when we realize that we need help. It is in the midst of our storms when we know how much God loves us.
- Trials bring humility (James 1:9). It is in the midst of adversity that makes us realize that we are nothing without God. God detests the proud but exalts the humble (Psalms 18:27). The importance of being humble is that we remain teachable and dependant on God. The moment we allow pride to rule, we will lose the grace and the favor of God upon our lives.
- To receive the crown of life (James 1:12). A crown is given only to a victor. Our Christian life is a race all of us will have to run, and whether we win or not depends very much on our attitude while on the field. God has made us victorious in Jesus (Romans 8:37). At the winning point, what awaits us is the crown of life that God has promised. It is when one stands before God on Judgment Day to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
- To prove to Satan that we can overcome (Job 1:8-11). In Job’s case, God allowed trials to prove he can still continue to praise God in his darkest times. Nevertheless, God will not allow us to go through beyond what we can bear, but in due time He will prepare a door of escape for us (1 Corinthians 10:13). God knows our limitations. He knows how much we can handle. Also, rest assured that at the end of the test, God will not only restore what has been stolen, but He will also reward you more than what is lost (Job 42:10-17).
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND IN THE MIDST OF A STORM?
Whether or not we pass a test is determined by how we respond when a storm rages.
- Come before God in worship. One of the reasons why the devil loves to bring along obstacles into our lives is because he hopes that he can rob God of our worship to Him. The devil hates it when we worship God, and that is what makes it even more important for us to worship God in the midst of adversity. Worship that rises from a broken heart rises like incense before God, and God is attracted and drawn to our cries. I believe that one reason why Job passed the test is because he knew how to come before God in worship, even when his world is crashing on him. When you are facing a storm, do not grumble or moan though that is what we usually do, but instead, spend some time with God in the closet, for it is in His presence where you draw strength, it is then when you receive the healing, peace and assurance that you need.
- Do not heed negative advices. When we’re in the fire, people around us will always tend to tell us what to do. While some of them are positive, godly encouragements, many are negative. We must know how to discern between the two so as to not let negativity affect us. In Job’s case, his friends and even his wife were feeding him with all kinds of negative advices, but he refused to heed them. Start focusing on the positive things; in fact, start confessing positive things over your circumstances.
- Focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). In the account of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33), we see that Peter being the more aggressive disciple, wanted to walk on the water when he saw Jesus doing that. He did walk a few steps, but eventually sank. Why? In verse 30, it said that when Peter saw the wind, fear overwhelmed him and he began to sink. Peter took his eyes off Jesus. When the storm rages, always remember to keep our focus on Jesus, for by doing so you will be able to brave the storm.
- Look at your storms as opportunities for breakthrough. There will not be a testimony without a test, neither a miracle without the existence of a problem. When we face trials, we have two choices: we can either look at them as something that will destroy us, or we can look at them as an opportunity. No matter what you are facing, God can turn them for good (refer to Turning Your Mess Into A Message). Many times the storm is the fiercest when opportunity, victory or promotion is right at the doorstep, and the devil knows that, and that is why he is coming so violently against us.
- Believe that God will deliver (Psalms 18:2). God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He has promised to deliver us from our enemies. God has also assured us that He is our strength, fortress and Rock. Whatever that you are going through, know that God will deliver you.
- Thank Him for your victory. Though you have yet to see your victory over this storm, start thanking God for it. For as you begin to express your thanks to God, you are actually claiming victory over your circumstances. By thanking God, you are actually exercising your faith, believing that God will deliver you.
- Testify (Revelation 12:11). After you have come through this trial, give God the glory by testifying to others, for this is how you overcome. You may never know, but there might be people who will be encouraged by what God has done in your life. Your testimony may be life-changing.
Learn to react positively in the midst of a storm!