Covid-19 Devotionals

Trials in the Christian Life

There are a few ways to gift wrap a present. The popular one these days is the easiest and most expensive way … using a gift bag. The oldest way is to buy rolls of paper, be it for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, graduations, new babies, etc. It certainly requires a certain level of competence with using scissors, sticky tape and/or ribbons. We have a few rolls of different types of paper for various occasions. The question came up a few weeks back … “how does one pack and store these rolls of different sizes?” A cardboard box? A plastic container? Some in height stand about half a meter whilst others stand at a full meter.

Some would label me a hoarder … I prefer the label “collector”. You see, over the years I have collected wood, steel, screws, nails, nuts and bolts. When we set up an ECD school in Pretoria West a few years ago, three quarters of all materials for gates, fences and partitions came from my collection! I have some thin lengths of knotty pine wood that were secured against a wall. Some people use it for ceilings. I decided that I would use some of this to make a 14 inch diameter cylinder with a wooden base standing 24 inches in height for the rolls of paper. Today was the day … and I thought it would take about two hours! I started at about 11am, but by 5pm all I had accomplished was the lengths of wood and the wooden, circular base. For a 14 inch diameter, the 360-degree circle would need 20½ lengths of wood. What took the longest time was finding out what angle these lengths of wood need to be shaped on either of the long sides to form a circle. Through trial and error, practicing with smaller pieces, I found that a 13.3 degree angle on either side would give me 20½ pieces needed to make the cylinder. Tomorrow is “D-Day” to see whether it comes together.

James writes:

Jas 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Being a sort of handy man around the house, I will always face “task” trials. That is what James says … not “if” you face but “when” you face … you will have trials in a variety of shapes as a follower of Christ! The trials will not abate or lessen. Parceled with salvation will be constant trials. This is because we have a common enemy, defeated by Jesus at the Cross, but still active and able to cause every possible obstacle in your Christian walk. At times, it seems as though you progress three to four spiritual steps and then you face a trial … and if you are not spiritually diligent, you slide back a few spiritual steps.

Look at verse 3 … these trials, whatever shape they appear in, have a purpose … to test your faith. That testing develops perseverance. In going through a variety of attempts to find the right angle and the right amount of lengths of wood, I think I found the right angle and number of pieces. It was hard work and I wasted some wood. That is perseverance. The trials of life test the stability of your trust and dependence on Jesus, causing persistence to keep going along the highway to Heaven. Verse 4 tells us that the more you persevere, the more you mature spiritually and become more and more Christ-like (Romans 8:29) … complete.

Never forget that there are no short cuts and easy, hill-less roads in Christianity. There are many mountains to climb and many valleys to engage. Also, there is only one opportunity … you can’t come back after death and try again to do better. What needed to be done has been done by Jesus … but our duty is to become Christ-like, holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). This is where the trials come because Satan does not what us to become Christ-like, holy and blameless.

Lord Jesus, grant me spiritual insight to be able to assess all trials correctly so that I might correctly work through them, growing in perseverance, pleasing You as I stand firmly rooted on the Rock of all Ages. Amen.

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