I'm preaching a series on "God's Stimulus Plan: How God uses hard times to stimulate us toward godliness." It's amazing how much the Bible has to say about hard times. It seems that everybody in the Bible went through hard times. The Bible is our "Hard Times History Book" and our "Hard Times Handbook."
We usually see hard times as a mistake, something gone wrong in our lives. But since Psalm 139:16 tells us that God planned each day of our lives before we were born, then He must have planned the bad days as well as the good days. He has put together a perfect recipe for our life that will mold us into the person He designed us to be--if we will respond as we should.
James had discovered the secret to understanding and responding to trials.
James 1:2-4, 12 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
This passage tells us that:
1. Trials are a part of life.
2. Trials test (or prove) our faith (or our lack of faith).
3. Trials develop perseverance.
4. Trials persevered make us full-grown, grown-up Christians.
The passage also hints at how our faith can persevere through hard times:
1. Consider it pure joy.
2. Remember what testing accomplishes.
3. Keep trusting, no matter what.
4. Love God more than anything else.