Welcome to Welling for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. I really want to be very productive, said a man, but I keep being distracted by two things– anything and everything.
Have you ever felt like that, where busyness is equated with activity? And so an entire industry of productivity apps has emerged, and I have a bunch of productivity acts on my phone. There are some benefits to it.
It increases productivity, produces something at the end. That’s why it’s called productivity app. It also increases efficiency. It helps you to work with flexibility and quickness and accuracy to reduce errors.
I like the word optimize and maximize. The next time, I’ll talk about maximizing benefits, this time about optimizing trials. That’s, after all, our tagline– to make the most stuff to, make the best of.
That’s our tagline. Joyfy Life– optimize your trials. An entire theology of suffering is found in the book of James
to make your faith as great as possible when you’re facing trials so that we capitalize trials and exploit trials and seize trials to optimize them for the quality of our faith, that they make us focus on God, that we work with God in these trials to produce what He wants in us in terms of endurance and character. We are in charge only of our reactions. We can’t do much about the circumstance, but you can have joy, count it all joy. And then you work with God with endurance in the trials which test the genuineness of your faith.
And it helps you accomplish God’s mission in your life for maturity and for completion. In the Book of Romans, there is a staircase to be climbed with a similar theme. There is tribulation.
There’s endurance. There’s character, and then there is hope. Somehow, that’s the highest of the stairs. But in James, the highest of the steps and stairs is maturity and completion– that you’re made of the right stuff.
It’s quite incredible. Trials produce endurance produce perfection, which produce completion, which shows that perfection and completion are not the same. If you look through The New Testament, you find some benefits of trials. If you want to optimize those trials, one of the ways is to find out what flaws they reveal in your character, in your faith.
Am I too self-sufficient? Am I too proud? They help me grow in dependence and humility before God.
It helps me share God’s faithfulness to me but also the strategies that God helped me use in overcoming them in enduring through them and then to help others to share with witness, to comfort them with the same comfort. I receive not only in perspective and theology of God’s glory and God’s greatness and God’s sovereign control but also how he took me through. He carried me. He covered me.
After all, these earthly things are only as long as this earth lasts. They are temporary. But the weighty things are for eternity.
So you optimize your faith. Make your faith magnificent. You maximize those trials. Let me give you a little theology of trials.
One, you do not magnify your trials. Never overplay them. Trials are trials.
They don’t have inherent value. They only have instrumental value. So if you can solve those trials, go ahead and solve them.
As one commentator says, meet them, greet them. Welcome them, not too warm welcome. Give them a polite welcome. Then, as the right time comes, send them away.
You permit them. You allow them, but we don’t get intimidated by them. Even though they’re crushing and they cause all kinds of anxiety and tears, we will not be intimidated by trials.
There’s a sweet story about a man and woman who threw a party, and it seemed like lots of uninvited guests showed up. But the man had a plan. He went to the front, and he made this announcement.
He said, if you’re from the bride groom’s party, stand up and a fourth of them stood up. Then he said if you’re from the bride’s party, stand up, and a fourth of them stood up. And then he said, we want all of us standing up to leave because this is a birthday party, not a wedding.
It’s the same way with trials. We tell our trials to leave. If we can solve them at all, let them leave.
So don’t magnify your trials. Second, do not marginalize your trials. What does marginalize mean?
It’s to relegate them to the margins. Trials consume us, don’t they? They occupy our face.
They occupy our mind. They occupy our mirrors. They occupy our time. So while we don’t overplay them, we don’t want to underplay them either.
But here’s the third one. Don’t minimize your trials. All of you minimize your screens on your computer.
We tried to bring them to a little part of the screen. But we can’t lessen the reality of the trials. Trials are horrible. Trials are terrible.
Instead, what we get to do is maximize– not marginalize, not magnify, not minimize, but maximize your trials. Play them for the sake of your faith to grow toward maturity in your character. You’re saying trials are valuable. We will welcome them temporarily because that’s the total value we’re going to look and maximize out of these circumstances.
I recommend that you examine each part of your life, each trial unit of your life– the spiritual trials, the physical trials, the intellectual trials, the need of resources, those kinds of trials, the emotional trials. Look at every unit and then examine the total cost of all these units. And you’ll find that you can maximize value.
One of the privileges of being human is we can maximize value. That’s how we are built. Animals cannot maximize value.
Machines cannot. We can turn trials into profitability. Consider them as temporary for the sake of eternity.
Consider them as real for the sake of character. We cannot stay in the crib, the baby crib, all life long. Or, to use some good business language, the net benefits of trials, the total benefit of the actual experience minus its opportunity costs, will generate in you what James says are two “lets” to permit.
Verse four– let steadfastness have its full effect.
In verse five, let– permit trials to help you ask God for wisdom. We’re talking about maximizing benefits and trading up trials a little later on, but trials allow us when you allow them to play their proper role, to let steadfastness have its full effect, and let you prompt you to ask god for wisdom. You pull value out of your trials. Optimize them with wisdom. Optimize your trials.