“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” – James 1:2-6 ESV
The heading for this passage in James is called Testing of Your Faith, and what I want to focus on is the last verse. A person who is doubtful is like a wave that is DRIVEN and tossed by the wind. I want to compare this to my favorite quote by Charles Spurgeon.
“I have learned to kiss the wave that DRIVES me against the Rock of Ages”
The Lord has taken me through some brutal seasons of testing recently that have produced so much in me. In these times of growth, I have learned to grow increasingly fond of my trials. And I think that is what God intends. Because there are varying degrees of intensity and duration, and there are all sorts of trials, I know that they are innumerable, and I would not be fond of, or have the maturity and faith to be equipped for now. But even though the trials I have endured so far have been challenging, and at times excruciating to endure – because I have seen the blessings and the fruit that has been produced as a result – I have learned to esteem them. I have seen them as good, and I would go through them all over again; without changing a thing, because I see the beautiful outcome God created out of every piece of the mess. And that is worth all the temporary pain and confusion trials may bring.
Trials, although extremely confusing and seeping with sacrifice and suffering, serve so many unique purposes, but there is an underlying truth and reason for why trials exist.
Going back to Spurgeons’ quote: waves, or trials, are meant to DRIVE us against the Rock of Ages. God intends for trials to wrap us back into the safety of His presence, under the shadow of His wing, and to renew our focus, foundation, and the center of our lives back on Him. He is our Rock of Ages. Our Firm Foundation, Strong Tower, and the Rock that is higher than I.
There are two things I love about this quote, and it is the words: “kiss” and “drive.” To kiss someone implies an intimacy with them. You do not kiss something unless you love, admire, and adore them. Trials are something we must learn to kiss. We must be trained and disciplined to not only embrace trials, but to love and admire them for what they are worth. I do not know if I could be so bold as to say we should or even could adore them, but we have the incredible gift and opportunity to adore the One who either (depending on the trial) is the wave sender or the wave absorber. We must believe that the Rock of Ages loves us unconditionally and only allows trials to happen because He causes them to be for our good and His glory. We must adore the One who loves us enough to allow us to go through hardships so that we can grow through them. Because He loves us too much to let us stay immature and caught up in sin and ignorance, He has a perfect plan to mold and shape us through each wave.
James 1:2-6 states, those who doubt are “like a wave of the sea that [are] driven and tossed by the wind”. When we doubt and do not ask of God in faith or do not believe what God says or who He is, we are wandering in the waves, vulnerable and able to be pushed around wherever the wind takes us. This is dangerous because when we are vulnerable and not planted firm in the promises of God, the Enemy has a foothold to tell us lies and push us further into the deep; further into our doubt. We should thank God then, for the wave that DRIVES us.
There are several versions of this quote that replaces the word “drives”. Some say “crashes”, “throws”, “slams”, “strikes”, etc. But I like drives better. This is because drive comes off as intentional, more carefully determined and planned. God uses these trials to drive us to Himself, making sure that these tests are crafted to us uniquely. God created us, so He knows exactly how to get our attention and what kind of trial to send us through to produce in us what He intends. He uses each trial; specially planned and catered to our needs, to drive us directly and firmly into a place of surrender in Him so we are led into His arms of provision and protection.
Obviously, if we are not obedient to Him, if we do not train ourselves to appreciate the purpose of trials, and consumed in doubt we do not believe that God’s arms are the safest place for us, we may fight the wave or sink underwater to avoid being pushed by the wave and therefore thrown against the Rock. Although trials are intended to bring us deeper into God’s presence and in a place of surrender, it is our choice whether we let the wave drive us to the Rock of Ages. It is our choice whether we fight against the reality of the wave, sinking into apathy and depression, or we let the wave do what it was created to do.
Because God is tirelessly protecting us and not allowing us to go through more than we can handle, He is not only sometimes the wave sender; He is always the wave absorber. No matter what trials we go through in life, and always; good and bad, God asks us to always rest in His presence, release our burdens at the foot of His throne, and surrender our hearts with all its doubts and concerns into His loving and almighty hands. Although we suffer due to trials, He asks us to rest in Him. One of the greatest reasons for trials is for us to be driven further into His loving arms in surrender. So, although we suffer the blows of trials; by resting in Him, having our eyes fixed on the One who is our Answer, and having a mind that is steadfast in the truth of who God is, we are in a position that aligns us to have the weight of the trial held not on our shoulders, but on the shoulders of our gracious and sacrificial Father.
When we are firm in Him, our trials become less taxing, less confusing, less consuming, less imminent, less threatening, less powerful, and less deprecating. Instead, because we have embraced the presence of the trial and therefore allowed God to have complete access to our heart and the ability to mold us as He sees fit, trials become beautiful seasons of growth. Trials produce fruit, character, perseverance, patience, a deeper intimacy with and a greater understand of God, and so many blessings that God wills to give us for having withstood the test. We are in the arms of a God who sustains us and gives us His perspective into trials. When we see trials from His point of view; understanding they are intended to refine us and mold us into becoming more like Him, we can feel the uninhibited freedom, unexplainable joy, and perfect love that our Creator holds out willing for us to grasp.