The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

My Three Most Helpful Passages for Coping With Trials: Part 1

Posted on: August 23, 2016

3 Passages Coping Trials Revised.001


One New Year’s Day, I was watching college football games with another family, including an alum of one of the teams playing. His daughter was looking forward to attending the school that fall. Her team was getting clobbered. As the game closed out and it became clear that they were going to lose, she wailed, “This is the worst day of my life!”

I thought to myself, “If – when you get to the end of your life – this is still the worst day of your life, you will have had a charmed existence.”

For someone to feel that having one’s team lose a bowl game constitutes the worst day of their life could only mean they haven’t lived very long… and they’ve had a pretty easy life as long as they have lived.

Most of us don’t have to live very long before we have a litany of things that are worse… much worse… than having our team lose. In fact, coping with trials is one of the major challenges of life for many.

When the floods of tribulation wash over us, they will either swamp us like water over a stone, or raise us up like corks floating on the surface.

Suffering and trials in life are intensely personal and it’s very difficult, except in extreme cases, to say if one person has suffered more than another. So I certainly don’t want to claim that I have suffered more than many others have. But I can say that I have suffered more than I expected to when I was young, and there are things in my life, not only physical, but also emotional, and spiritual, that I have found intensely challenging.

As the Lord’s increasing grace has been extended to me in the midst of those challenges, I have found three passages of Scripture to be vital in my ability to cope. With each passage presenting a different essential perspective, I want to spend the next three blogs unpacking each one.

Probably not a surprise to you, the first passage is James 1:2-4:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.

There are various benefits that can come to us as a result of trials. Some benefits are temporal and some are eternal. This passage focuses on who you become as a result of trials. Implicit in the passage is that the road to transformation always goes through the tunnel of trials.

That doesn’t mean the trials will always transform us. We can harden ourselves against the trials, and experience no benefit.   Someone once said, “The same sun that hardens clay softens butter.” The difference is, we can choose whether we will harden or soften.

In a recent blog post, I referenced Dallas Willard, who said, “The thing God gets out of your life is the person you become. And the thing you get out of your life is the person you become.”

That being the case, one of our highest priorities should be to become the greatest person we can before we die. Choosing to take the passage in James to heart, will further that goal. By responding to trials with faith and obedience, we reap a wonderful temporal benefit: we become a person of spiritual strength, better able to cope with the trials of life, perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We have two choices when the trials come. One is to suffer, not respond spiritually, and come out of it with nothing but the pain. The second is to suffer, respond spiritually, let it change us, and come out of it complete, lacking in nothing.

The key to being able to profit from the trials in our lives is found Romans 12:2, which says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. “

This tells us that we can be living proof of the fact that God’s will is good and acceptable and perfect, but in order to do so, we must be transformed. And to be transformed, we must have our mind renewed.

So, when we are in the midst of our trials, we can follow the principle in Romans 12:2, we can memorize and meditate on James 1:2-4, so that its truth instructs and comforts us. We can let it go through our minds and hearts over and over again, renewing our mind and transforming our life.

There is no shortcut.

As we look at the other two passages in the next two weeks, we will also make the point that the truth of those passages must be driven home through the mental renewal process (memorization and meditation of Scripture) found in Romans 12:2.  As we do, the whole spiritual impact of the three passages will be greater than the sum of its parts. They will create a mental framework through which we can take our thoughts, giving us endurance which the Lord will use to make us complete, lacking in nothing.

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