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Featured Topic: Trials

Seasons of Suffering

“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.”
(James 1:2-4)

What Is the Purpose of Trials?

Trials are tests of your faith, patience or endurance through the process of suffering – proving the quality or worth of something or someone. Three primary Greek words are translated as “trial” in the New Testament. Each has a slightly different emphasis in meaning, yet they all reveal God’s purpose for trials and suffering.

  • Dokimion . . . proven faith
    A testing trial in which your faith is proved genuine—
    “These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7)
  • Purosis . . . refined character
    A fiery trial through which your character is refined, as gold is refined (implies suffering) —
    “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)
  • Peirasmos . . . tested commitment
    A trial or temptation through which the quality of your commitment is tested —
    “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.” (James 1:2-4)

God Means It for Good

Wherever he went, young Joseph incited resentment and jealousy. This favored child of Jacob needed refining, and it was no wonder that his brothers determined to do away with him after he bragged that one day they would bow down to him (see Genesis 37:5-11). Joseph’s story illustrates how God smooths the rough edges of our character by various trials and testings that build confidence in His purpose and provision for us.

The sands of abrasion were very real in Joseph’s life, for God used his trials of rejection and suffering and years of undeserved punishment to soften him. Joseph’s self-centered spirit was replaced with compassion even for those who had tried to harm him (see Genesis 45:8-11). More importantly, Joseph learned to trust God. His most powerful pronouncement was made when he told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

“The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)

From God’s Word

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

More verses: 2 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Peter 1:6, 2 Corinthians 12:9