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Loving God Under Trials

 James 1:12-18

by
Brett Rutherford

Trials and tribulations are an inevitable part of life. There is not one person who has ever lived who has not experienced difficulty, strife and grief. Adversity is as inevitable as death, taxes and the judgment. When we face adversity we want to be sure that we invoke the assistance of God to help us overcome. There is no question that God is concerned about our physical and spiritual well-being. He is an invaluable and inexhaustible source of comfort and strength in times of trouble.  It is unfortunate that so many people blame God for the problems they experience in life. It is utter folly to turn our backs on the One who is truly able to help us overcome the most difficult trials we may experience. Why is it the case that so many blame God for suffering in the world? One needs to recall that it was man who introduced suffering in the world when he chose to rebel against God. God placed the first man and woman in a beautiful garden paradise. The utopia of Eden was free from natural disaster, death, sickness and suffering.

The perfect nature of the justice of God demanded that man be given free will. It was imperative that God place in man the right to choose between right and wrong. Sadly, man abused his privilege of free will and turned his back on God. Adam and Eve partook of the fruit that God had forbidden. By this action they proved themselves to be unworthy of the blessings that God had provided for them. Because man had chosen not to obey God he was removed from the garden paradise of Eden. In leaving the garden Adam and Eve entered a world of natural disaster, disease, sin and death. Who was responsible for Adam and Eve’s separation from an adversity free world? Was it God’s choice or man’s choice that resulted in Adam and Eve’s entry into a suffering and dying world? Obviously, man is responsible for the inevitable suffering that we all have to experience.  We live in a day and age where men and women have become ignorant of the law of God. It is their ignorance and their failure to adhere to the will of God that has led them into so much trouble. Many of the problems we face in life are of our own making. For example, I cannot recall how many times I have come across people who are unscripturally married and refuse to end their ungodly relationship. Many times they feel they love each other or they have had children between them and believe that it would be wrong to end their relationship for these reasons. It is certainly a tragedy when children can no longer live with both parents. However, God demands that such a sinful relationship must end. Do we blame God for this tragedy or do we blame the parents who had these children while in an unscriptural relationship? Had the parents of these children obeyed God’s law on marriage, divorce and re-marriage the tragic circumstance of these children could have been avoided.

God is not responsible for the temptation and tragedy we face. In fact, it is impossible for God to be the source of anything that is wicked. Temptation and tribulation originated from sin. God cannot be the source of it. In James chapter one and verses thirteen through fifteen the inspired author wrote “Let no one say when his is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings for the death.”  I believe we would not be so quick to blame God for our trials and tribulations if we would strive to increase our understanding of the character of God. I believe that as we grow in our knowledge of God’s character we will learn not to blame Him but to depend upon Him when we face temptation and tragedy.

God is an understanding, loving, just and merciful Being. He has been nothing but  generous and dependable. These characteristics are evident from the purpose and hope God has given to man. It is impossible for us to be justified in suggesting that God is capable of wickedness and cruelty.  God is generous. James refers to God as a Being who gives “liberally and without reproach” (James 1:5).  On page nine hundred and sixty five of Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words it states that the word “reproach” in this verse comes from the Greek word “oneidizo” which literally means, “to cast in (his) teeth.” This phrase is similar in meaning to our phrase “to throw back in one’s face.” In other words, when we make a request of God He does not scoff or become tired of responding to the requests of His faithful disciples. He does not reject a sincere plea for assistance.  God’s liberality is expounded upon in James 1:17. In this verse James attributes no evil to God. In fact, James goes as far to say that every good and righteous thing that we enjoy (materially and spiritually) comes from God. God is the source of all that is right in the world!

For just a moment consider all of the wonderful gifts God has provided for us. God has given man gifts that none other can provide. He has given us a saviour, salvation, peace, hope and love. The fact, that God is a giver by nature implies that He has no need of the gifts or favours of man. In Acts 17:24,25 we read of Paul’s rebuke of the Athenians because they believed that deity needed them. The great apostle informed the Athenians that “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” There is nothing that man can give God that is necessary for His survival or comfort. It can be said that God does not need us, but we are in desperate need of Him. However, God is pleased when we choose to serve Him.

Whenever we are tempted to think that God owes us a good life or salvation remember Paul’s statement to the Athenians. Man’s service to God is for man’s good, not for God’s good. Everything that God commands man to do is for man’s good. It is also that case that everything that God insists that we avoid is also for our good. When troubles arise never think that God is obligated by debt to assist you. He assists you through His providence and word because that is His nature. Sadly, for many only in death will they realize how much God has done for them.

Another wonderful aspect of God that should motivate us to a greater love and appreciation for Him is His dependability. It is a comforting thought to know that God is unchanging. James wrote that with God “…there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Man is never truly happy until he obtains a sense of security. There is nothing more troubling than uncertainty about our present and future prospects. Unfortunately, no man can guarantee that our future is secure. We live in an increasingly unstable and insecure world. It certainly fills one with a sense of well being to know that God never changes His ambition for us. Nor does He change the way to fulfil that ambition.

God’s character will never change, therefore, His generosity and His love for us will never change. Paul wrote “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39). God’s justice will never change. In Romans chapter two and verse eleven it is written, “For there is no partiality with God.” In other words, God will never unjustly accuse or judge anyone. God’s demands on men will never change. God’s rewards and blessings have always been dealt out to men upon the condition that men believe and obey. The author of the book of Hebrews wrote “For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-31). As the inspired writer points out, God is also unchanging in His view towards those who disobey His will.

Someone once said that it was impossible for God to change, because all change must be in one of three directions: (1) From better to worse; (2) From worse to better; (3) From one order of being to another. God’s perfect nature rules out all three of these possibilities for God cannot decline in His morality and justice. God cannot get any better for He is already the epitome of goodness. God is flawless in His present form; therefore, it is impossible for Him to change for the better. He is simply the best any being could possibly be. No one has enough power alter the will and purpose of God. His love, law and hope for us will never diminish even when our love for Him may from time to time fade. Remember this truth the next time you are tempted to turn your back on God due to hardships in your life.

One of the greatest motives for loving God when we face tribulations is coming to an understanding that God has a purpose for us. A purpose for living is one of the key elements in having a meaningful, prosperous and happy life. People end their own lives everyday because they have no meaning or purpose in life. People without a purpose are among the most miserable creatures on earth. A reason for living is truly one of the greatest gifts that God has given to man. The reason why we are here on this planet is stated in Ecclesiastes 12:13,14: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.” If we work toward fulfilling this purpose God has promised to set us apart from the rest of creation and bless us with a crown of life. James wrote, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). Although all creatures are a creation of God the Christian is a special creation of the Lord. Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). No creature in all of creation is like a faithful Christian. The Christian is one who has fulfilled God’s ambition for him and as a result God has made a new man out of him. The Christian no longer wanders aimlessly through life. He is no longer one who is overcome by the pressures of this world, but he is one that has been blessed with a goal in life that will bring eternal rewards. Of the faithful Christian James wrote, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

What should our attitude toward God be when temptation and adversity fills our lives? We need to trust in God, love and obey Him, for He and His word are the only real means of overcoming trials (James 1:18). How can we fail to love a God that offers reward to those who endure temptation and adversity? 

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