It seems like our nation has gone nuts: impeachment proceedings, coronavirus, racial imbalance, rioting, tyranny, economic meltdown, the list seems to go on and on. And if some or a lot of this can truly be attributed to election-year antics, that’s bad, because that means it is likely to get worse. But aside from making for depressing news cycles, there is something we need to remember: the tensions and resulting chaos is real. Real people are scared. Real people are being challenged in ways they never have before, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Real people are hurting.
I was at a gathering of preachers several years ago when the conversation turned to a particularly divisive topic. A preacher for whom I have a great deal of respect stopped the discussion and made a statement I have never forgotten. Brother Powell said, “Brethren, sin is sin.” Whether we’re talking about murder, stealing, sexual immorality, racism, or rebellion, the problem always goes back to sin. And sin is always going to lead to fear, anxiety, heartache, and pain.
James wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3, ESV). The “trials of various kinds” which cannot be overlooked are the ones that come into our lives tangentially. We didn’t go looking for them, we didn’t invite them home with us, but here they are. We “met” them, and through that meeting, they became a trial to us, and now they are testing us. Here are 4 things we can do to make it through:
Identify sin as sin. If something is a lie, don’t repeat it. If something is truth, do not fear it. But do not try to justify sinful activity in the name of expediency, political correctness, vengeance, or injustice.
Weep when you need to weep. See Matthew 5:4 and Romans 12:15. Trials are going to hurt. We need to understand that and acknowledge it. Mourn over the sinfulness of yourself and others, have a shoulder to be cried upon, and have your own shoulder ready for those who need it.
Look for steadfastness. James says it is coming, but we have to make it through the trials first, and in the process we are being prepared for whatever is coming next.
Count the joy. No, there is no joy in trials, only in the strengthening of our faith and the resulting steadfastness.
Our joy is in our God, who sees what we must endure, and has prepared something much better for us.