Trying Harder Isn’t Always the Answer

James 1:3 Testing your faith produces steadfastness Photo by kilarov zaneit on Unsplash

We want life to be easy. It’s human nature to avoid pain and conflict. The American way is to reduce hassle and maximize comfort, usually by purchasing something on a late night infomercial. Sorry folks, consumerism won’t solve all your problems.

Contrary to the prosperity gospel message, God utilizes hardship to teach us.

James 1:2-5 (ESV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

The Greek word for trials is peirsasmos, which can be translated as challenging circumstances. Maybe the budget is tight and you are staring at a stack of bills. Could be that you are were overlooked for advancement at work, conflict in relationships, failing health…the list goes on and on.

Gideon’s Lesson About Resources

We tend to think that having resources is God’s will for our life to tackle trials. A huge stack of money in the bank for paying bills or friends to help us when we get stuck in a jam must surely be what the Lord wants for me.

In Gideon’s case the commodity he valued most was a large army. War with Midian was coming and everything was looking good, until God said to downsize the army. That’s right, God wanted Gideon to cut his force down to 300 soldiers.

Try taking this advice to the Pentagon and see what happens. Man’s wisdom would never conclude that having less soldiers in an open battlefield would be advantageous. God has a plan behind this scheme.

Judges 7:2 (NIV)

The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’

The goal of difficulties is not to stir us up into a panic to try harder. The hardships we face teach us that God is the deliverer. We can’t roll up our sleeves and save ourselves. The perseverance that grows in us is trust in God. With every trial we see that God is faithful. He is trustworthy. Trial after trial Christ reminds us that He really is the Good Shepherd. In Christ we are saved and secure by His work on the cross.

Gideon saw that trusting in the Lord to provide victory was much better than trusting in the size of Israel’s army.

Judges 7:22 (NIV)

When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.

The might of the Lord came through for Israel and Gideon. Whatever you are going through, stop, take a deep breath and cry out to the Lord. In every trial He is our hope.

1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead