For us to see the opportunity in adversity we must recalculate our expectations. What is God doing in prayer? What do expect Him to do? Perhaps what you expect of God in the trial is not what He expects of you.
We must also recalculate our situation. Our situation may change, but God never changes. The good and the bad of my life circumstances is not indicator for the way God feels about me. Don’t misinterpret your lack of health or lack of finances as a lack of God’s love. It doesn’t equate.
Finally, to see the opportunity of adversity we recalculate temptation.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:12-18 ESV)
In the trial a lot of people get bent out of shape with God. Why is God doing this to me? What did I do to deserve this? In every trial there is a temptation to forsake faith. And it is here that you see people fall flat.
There are lots of things that are sinful to which this verse applies. Some people would say that by God allowing something incredibly hurtful in their lives; some sort of evil abuse that victimized them, that God is evil. Or, someone may say that because they have a propensity toward a certain kind of sin, that it means God created them that way and so their lifestyle choices shouldn’t be considered sinful. This verse clearly refutes those ideas by declaring that God is not evil and therefore cannot be blamed for being the source of evil, in any circumstance, in any person’s life.
But in context, the immediate temptation James encounters is the greatest temptation we face in adversity, giving up on faith. James is teaching that walking away from faith may be tempting, but it is sinful.
If your faith falls flat and you walk away, don’t think that is God’s fault, that’s your fault. God doesn’t allow the trial to come to turn you toward evil. God allows the trial to come to turn you toward something that is remarkably good.
The TRIAL IS SOMETHING AROUND YOU.
The TEMPTATION IS SOMETHING IN YOU.
Trials have a way of exposing our weaknesses. But what does 2-3 say God’s design is in the trial? Strength, completeness, to LIFE PROOF you to where you can hold up and stop falling prey to the same junk over and over again.
This passage gives us a great teaching on temptation. Sin is much like the conception, incubation, and birth of a child. If you see someone fall in sin, know this - it wasn’t an overnight change. They have been dabbling in it for a long time. It is not a SITUATIONAL PROBLEM IT IS SYSTEMIC PROBLEM.
God allows the trial because He wants to do something good. Look at verses 16-18. It teaches us these truths:
- You have a very special purpose - as the first fruits of his creatures.
- You have a very faithful God - no shadow due to change, this means we can seek solid truth in our trials. God gives good things.
Throughout the Book of James we will see the author constantly encounter the failed ends of man’s pursuits with the good things God gives when we trust Him by faith.
Our temptation may be to walk away, but if we do that is failed faith. It is not a failure of the faith God gives us, but it is a failure in a version of faith we have manufactured - a faith that cannot remain steadfast and stand up to the trial.
In times of trial, don’t rush to anger or to blame God. Recalculate the temptation. God has not required us to believe in something that is doomed to fail. He has given us a faith that is good - one that when tested will mature and strengthen our lives.