“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (patience.) And let steadfastness (patience) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4).
It almost seems like life was easier before we came into a personal encounter with Christ. For no sooner did the initial honeymoon time with the Lord fade off, than it appears as if “all hell broke loose” soon afterwards. Trials from within and without seemed to be the order of the day, often driving the young Christian to despair. But as James says, patience is one of those golden virtues that God develops in us using trials as the means.
We must never forget that, whatever our circumstances, God has allowed them for our good. Indeed he often even engineers our circumstances in order to achieve His special purpose in our lives. Sometimes the trials seems hard and almost too difficult to bear. But this is because we do not understand His ways as higher than our own, or because we lack confidence in His love and wisdom. We need only remember that He has the almighty power to prevent anything from happening; so if it happens, He has obviously permitted it for us, because our lives are in His hands. Therefore, murmuring and complaining clearly expose our distrust of His motives and our unbelief that He is in control.
We are prone to think, “Doesn’t the devil also have a hand in what happens to us?” That is very true, as we see in Job’s case. But we also see how the devil could not go beyond what God permitted (Job 1:12; Job 2:6); and what He permitted He used for even greater blessing in Job’s latter years. It is interesting to note Job’s response at all times. His confidence lay fully and squarely on his heavenly Father and all he could say was: “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21), and again “Even though thou slay me, yet will I trust thee” (Job 13:15). Not once did he acknowledge any other being as the cause. In the N.T. again we see Satan demanding permission to sift Simon Peter like wheat in Luke 22:31; a permission which was granted, so that Peter’s faith may be strengthened through his fall and subsequent restoration, making him a fit vessel to strengthen his brethren thereafter [See homily of Pope Benedict XVI, dated 29/6/2006, para 13]. The truth is that in the life of a Christian, the devil is powerless to do anything without God permitting it. Though a supernatural creature, he is still a created being, and the authority he usurped from the first Adam was stripped away by the triumphant last Adam (Jesus Christ) at the cross of Calvary (see Col 2:15). “He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities–all things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:15-17).
Application: No matter how hard the trials and storms rage, keep the inner eye of faith firmly fixed upon your heavenly Father, for He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Him (Isa 26:3). And then, “In quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength” (Isa 30:15 Amp), knowing that every trial and raging storm that comes to the believing Christian comes through the filter of His love and His explicit permission.