Trials test our faith. Our response to them shows whether we actually believe and trust God, or if we only say that we do. They help us see what we really believe.
But God is not like one of those teachers who makes a test as difficult as possible to see how many people will fail it. He’s not giving us a test to see if we pass or fail. He’s allowing trials in our lives to help us mature. Trials give us the opportunity to grow in our faith as we see God prove Himself faithful over and over again, and as we learn to believe that He will keep being faithful.
James 1:3 says that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness or endurance. That’s why we can count it joy when we fall into trials. God is actually using all those hard times in our lives to help us grow.
Assignment: Pray, thanking God for the time you are about to spend in His Word, and asking for His guidance
- Open Blue Letter Bible (the website or the app) and search on James 1:3. (If you can’t remember how to do this, review the instructions in Day 9.) We’re going to look at another in verse 3 today.
- Hover over the “Tools” button and click “Interlinear.” (App users, tap verse 3, and then select “Interlinear/Concordance.”)
- Click the Strong’s number for patience (5281). Let’s get better acquainted with the lexicon while we learn more about this important word.
- Look at the section labeled “KJV Translation Count — Total: 32x.” This portion of the lexicon tells us that this Greek word, hypomone, is used 32 times in the Bible, and then it shows us all the different ways it has been translated into English in the King James Version. For example, it is translated as patience 29 times and as enduring one time.Take notes on this information in your notebook.
- Then look at the “Outline of Biblical Usage,” to see a summary of how the word is used, again taking notes.
- Now let’s learn a bit about this word’s “family history.” To what words is it related? Look toward the top of the lexicon page for the section labeled “Root Word (Etymology).” Click the link (for G5278) in this section. What do you find?
You should see a new word that is very similar to our original word, hypomone. The spelling has change to hypomeno. This is the verb form of the same word, just like our word sing is the verb form of the noun song.
- Take notes on what you find about this verb under “KJV Translation Count” and under “Outline of Biblical Usage.” Reading about this verb form of patience, will expand our understanding of the word.
- Last, let’s go back even one more step in the family history of patience (hypomone) by looking at the “Root Word (Etymology)” for the verb hypomeno. Notice that two different Greek words are listed here.
- Click the first link (for G5259) and take notes on what you find.
- Then click your browser’s back arrow to return to the “Root Word” section, and click on the link for the second word (G3306). (App users, click the single left-pointing arrow at the top right hand corner of your screen to go back one step. Then click G3306.) Note what this word means, too.
Our study helps us know now that hypo means by or under, and meno means to remain or abide. So hypomeno literally means to abide or remain under. This sheds much more light on the meaning of patience in James 1:3. James is telling us that the testing of our faith helps us develop the ability to remain under difficulties.
This makes me think of my son who does CrossFit training. As he pushes himself to lift just a bit more than is comfortable each day, he has grown in his ability to remain under the weights that are much heavier than he could originally lift. The “testing” of more and more weight has produced a strength he didn’t have before those workouts.
In a similar way, when we encounter troubles and trials, if we keep carrying them, in the strength God gives us, we grow stronger. Our faith matures. We are more and more willing to trust God and believe that He is in control of every situation. Our faith grows in its ability to remain under the weight of trials, and we learn to endure hardship because we’re trusting God. We persevere when we would have despaired or given up in the past.
This is why we can count it joy when we fall into troubles. We’re going to grow as we exercise the muscles of our faith.
Consider illustrating this idea with a small drawing of you lifting a large weight over your head. (Search Google Images for photos you can look at for models.) It will help you remember this truth.
We’re going to spend one more day on verse 3. The opening verses of James’ letter are central to what he has to say to us, and they merit our thorough study and meditation before we move on in the chapter. (This may turn into more than a 30-day study!)
For your children:
- Review your memorization of James 1:1-3.
- Sit together in a circle, and recite the verse with one person saying the first word, the next person saying the next word, and so on round and round the circle until you have recited all three verses. Offer help as needed for those who can’t recall the words.
- Then read verse 3 aloud again and explain what you have learned about the word patience (or endurance or steadfastness, depending on what translation you are memorizing.)
Talk about the idea of exercising muscles so they become stronger. What does someone do if he wants to have stronger arms? He exercises them. He forces them to do more than they are comfortable doing, in order for the muscles to become stronger.
- To help them remember this truth and its picture of growing stronger and more mature as we persevere in trials, do some exercising together! Give each child two cans of food from your cupboards. Have them hold a can in each hand, with arms down at their sides. Then have everyone lift their arms out sideways from their bodies and up over their heads while holding the cans. Then bring them back down to their sides again. Do this over and over until people grow quite tired.
- Discuss how their arms will grow stronger if they push them to work harder than is comfortable.
- Then explain that our faith will grow stronger when we experience trials that require us to trust God more.
- Think of examples in the children’s lives that illustrate this (refusing to take revenge against someone who has hurt them, being kind to someone who is unkind to them, etc.).
We can have joy in the midst of trials, knowing that we are growing more like Jesus, just as we can have joy in knowing that we are growing stronger and more fit while we exercise, even though it hurts while we’re doing it.