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James 1:2-12
You know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow (James 1:3).

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Read 1 Peter 4:12-16 and see some additional responses to trials and suffering.

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Why is a comfortable and convenient faith potentially dangerous to spiritual maturity? In what ways have trials or suffering caused you to grow spiritually?

In The Call to Joy and Pain, Ajith Fernando, a Christian leader from Sri Lanka, wrote: “The church in each culture has its own special challenges—theological blind spots that hinder Christians from growing to full maturity in Christ. . . . I think one of the most serious theological blind spots in [today’s] western church is a defective understanding of suffering. . . . The ‘good life’—comfort, convenience, and a painless life—have become necessities that people view as basic rights. If they do not have these, they think something has gone wrong. . . . One of the results of this attitude is a severe restriction of spiritual growth, for God intends us to grow through trials.”

This is what James wanted his readers to understand. He began his epistle with a surprising command: “When troubles come your way, consider it as an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2). James encouraged the Jewish believers to view their hardships not as a punishment or a curse, but as opportunities for rejoicing. He wasn’t encouraging them to enjoy trials or to pretend to be happy in the midst of their struggles or to try to escape from them. He was encouraging them to rejoice during their testings because of their confidence in God and because of the potential outcomes, which included endurance, a seasoned and well-developed life, and the correcting of glaring weaknesses and blind spots.

Spiritual growth doesn’t happen through comfort, convenience, and a painless life—it happens through trials and suffering. Let’s welcome testing and suffering as friends and rejoice during the difficulties, knowing that the outcome will be growth, endurance, and a reward of righteousness.

Trials reveal the level of our spiritual maturity and where we need to grow up.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Joshua 3:1-17

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4 Responses to “correcting blind spots”

  1. Tom Kopper says:

    Our trials, at present, remove’s our happiness, at the ‘present-tense’. But, joy, is the ‘future-tense’, of our present testing and suffering, inwhich will come a reward from our Lord. Don’t be to quick to always have an opinion in your mind, ‘that person has comitted a sin. It just, maybe something out of their control. Any fruit tree can look pretty, but has to be pruned to produce more fruit. And if you can’t see this, then expect prunning to take place so that you will also, grow-up.

  2. winn collier says:

    ‘where we need to grow up’ – good reminder, marvin. Would you say anything in addition to this for those whose suffering or hardship is due to injustice, just curious.

    • tori says:

      I would say, God, who sits on the throne sees and knows everything. If one is suffering injustice, God sees, and God knows. When we call to him, he is the one who can turn everything around for good. He uses whatever situation we’re in, whether or not we’ve brought it upon ourselves to strengthen us if we allow him to through his grace and Jesus in us. Just remember Winn that Jesus knows and sees everything, and he is a beautiful savior who works out all things to the good of those who love him, with “good” meaning good in his eyes, not ours. So where we need to grow up can also mean, God working in us, through our circumstances. May God help us to live as branches, utterly depending upon our source of life from out vine, Jesus, whether or not life makes sense.

    • Winn, great question. I believe we have theological permission to continue to humbly fight for justice – eradicating poverty in the world, liberating those who are caught in human trafficking, speaking out against racism and prejudice of all kinds, looking forward to the day when our Heavenly Father will renew all things. Even in unjust situations God can redeem those painful times for greater good. Also, sometimes the mystery of our pain and suffering remains a mystery and we simply trust that God, one day, will clear up the mystery.

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