“Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great”(Matt. 5:12) Trials and Tribulation:
James 1:2-6 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, (peirasmos) knowing that the testing (dokimion) of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, 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 men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.“
Note: The words for “trials” and “testing” (vv. 2-3) are both words for suffering yet, both are entirely different in origin and intent. One form of testing (peirasmos, v. 2) has the intent of failure, while the other form of testing (dokimion, v.3), is a testing to show the value or quality of the thing tested. In most N.T. occurrences a peirasmos testing, is one of evil origin (Satanic). Incidentally, the word “temptation” is also the same Greek word peirasmos, as in the words, “trial” and “testing”. From his book “The Cup and the Glory“, Dr. Greg Harris wrote; “While God may allow and even use a trial for His own objective, He Himself is not the origin of evil. ” cf. Jas. 1:13.
Also, we should always pray for God’s wisdom (v. 5) to help us be joyful when experiencing trials.
Romans 5:3-5 “And not only this, but we also exult (boast) in our tribulations, (thliphsis) knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Note: The Holy Spirit was given through Jesus Christ. (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:2, 18, John 14:26, 16:7).
Also, the words “perseverance” and “endurance” are synonymous, and literally defined in the original Greek as, patient endurance.
Joy (chara): joy; delight
Rejoice (chaira): to rejoice; be glad
Trials (peirasmos): temptation; a testing; an experiment
Testing (dokimion): testing; proof, (a validation of faith -as in James 1:3)
Testing (peirasmos): temptation; a testing; an experiment-(as in 1 Pet. 4:12)
Tribulation (thliphsis): affliction; distress; trouble
Persecution (diogmos): persecution, suffering
Exult (kauchaomai): boast; to take pride in-( Boast in tribulations, (as the Apostle Paul did in, 2 Cor. 12:10)
Wisdom (sophia): wisdom— Random House Dictionary; “knowledge of what is true or right, coupled with just judgment as to action; discernment”. Note: sophia is where we get the English word “sophisticated”.
Hope (elpis): expectation; hope
Trials most likely will come for our testing and ultimate growth. According to the Bible, we are instructed to have “joy” and “exult” in the midst of trials. Jesus declared that we should greatly rejoice when being persecuted for righteousness. (Matt. 5:10). I know in the midst of suffering, being joyful seems completely opposite to the natural emotions we tend to feel. But, the Bible states that we ought to be joyful. Just re-read the previous passages. In Phil. 4:4 we read; “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” According to Scripture, even in the midst of extreme trials, or being unjustly persecuted, we are instructed to let other believers and non-believers see and hear of the “hope” which is in us (1 Pet. 3:15). What a powerful testimony it would be for Christ’s Gospel. It’s the kind of proof and evidence which defies human logic! Furthermore, it is a unique testimony that the world thinks is foolish and cannot understand. (1 Cor. 2:14). And the type of testimony for Christ that stands out like a shining light. (Matt. 5:14-16).
We are not currently experiencing the extreme persecution, the saints who Peter wrote his first epistle to, but, I can personally attest to incredible amounts of suffering present in many of your lives from listening week by week to the numerous prayer requests. Brothers, instead of simply attempting to pray away afflictions, illnesses, or trials, we ought to be asking God for His “will to be done“, and the “wisdom” to understand and accept His unsearchable perfect purpose for our lives. (Matt. 6:10, Jas. 1:5). As the previous passages indicate, trials are designed to equip us with: patient endurance, perseverance, proven character; to be made perfect and complete, and lacking in nothing. This spiritual maturation will ultimately produce in us “hope”; hope that we not only can offer to those who are perishing, but also with fellow brethren who might be encouraged by your sound testimony.
Paraphrasing what John MacArthur asserted in a recent sermon. If you only pray for God to remove the trial, whatever it may be; you may be asking God to remove the very trial He brought into your life for your spiritual growth! God tests (dokimion) our faith for its genuineness. On a personal note; I don’t remember what sermon I heard MacArthur state this, but I wrote it down, committed it to memory, and never forgot it. Because I was struggling with my changed life only mere months after sustaining a traumatic brain injury. The serious nature of the injury had an immense affect on me physically; no longer was I the ubiquitous capable athlete. So I ardently prayed to God to take the “trial” away, until I heard that sermon.
1 Peter 3:14-16 “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and fear; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Note: Again, how powerful the testimony will be, if one were to joyfully defend the “hope” (in Christ) that God provides while undergoing persecution. cf. Acts 5:40-42, 16:23-25–
Note: Paul and Silas were brutally beaten with rods, thrown into prison, and had their feet shackled. Their response was to joyfully sing hymns and praise God. Interestingly, the other inmates listened to Paul and Silas. Just imagine how many lives were changed by their joyful testimony!
Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” cf. Matt. 23:30, 35.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me– to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast (exult) about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”Note: The Apostle Peter and our Lord Jesus declared, that we are blessed (makarios), when suffering, especially for behaving righteously. (Matt. 5:10, 1 Pet. 3:14).
Note: In both verses, the word “blessed” in the original Greek, is defined as “happy” or in a more modern meaning, “religious happy”. Dr. Greg Harris defined the word “blessed” in these contexts as, “One who enjoys divine favor”. Amazingly, Paul boasted (exulted) in his weaknesses! (2 Cor. 12:10).
As natural as it is to have feelings of sorrow, sadness, grief, etc, when we go through trials and tribulations; remember they are legitimate feelings. And, it’s definitely appropriate to pray for God’s intervention regarding trials and we are even instructed to help others. For example, we should, “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:14), or, as James wrote, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray…Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and pray over him.” (James 5:13-14).
So then, why am I solely focusing this devotional/study on “rejoicing” and “exultation”, when experiencing trials, tribulation, or persecution? Because, in my observation, brethren already know how to grieve, weep, and pray for the well-being of others. We constantly and consistently pray for alleviation from the pain and suffering brought on by trials. Brothers, as best as we are able, we need to count as “blessings” (makarios), the trials that come into our lives. We must realize God intends suffering for spiritual growth. Again, I quote Dr. Greg Harris; “One reason this is so incompatible with our way of thinking is our definition of “blessing” (as a result of suffering and persecution) often differs considerably from God’s definition of blessing. While our perception of blessing may have a spiritual element to it, most of us view blessings from God largely in the physical realm: health, safety, possessions, etc. These are valid to a degree, and we should look to God as our Provider and Giver. But God has a more elevated perception of blessing. God sees the total scope of future history, looking at eternal consequences, whereas we are mostly limited, both by choice and design, to the temporal.” The epistle of 1 Peter mainly focuses on suffering:
1 Peter 2:20b-21 “But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,”
1 Peter 4:12-16, 19: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing (peirasmos), as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God…Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
1 Peter 5:10 “ And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” Amen!
Do not judge or compare one another’s trials, rather come along side and encourage your brother or family members who are be tested/trials/suffering, as it always for the purpose of God making each one of us more like His Son, preparing us for heavenly glory. God provides for all of us. Whether having experienced trials or currently going through a trial. Because it is our calling, we can offer comfort to fellow brethren who might be burdened with trials and tribulation or experiencing persecution. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”
So, what is this “hope” that all believers are called to possess and to bear witness? It is a guaranteed hope of redemption through Jesus Christ; only that can prompt “rejoicing” and “exultation” amidst suffering? It is a hope the world cannot comprehend and thinks foolish. Therefore we might endure persecution at their hands because of that ignorance!
1 Peter 1:3-9 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” Therefore,
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18. Amen!