[A Shelter in the Time of Storm]
Rev. Dr. Johann Lai

In Times of Trial

“…whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2)

When James wrote his epistle, believers in the nascent church were suffering from great persecution. As he began his letter, James encouraged believers to be adaptable in times of trial. He said, “whenever you face trials of many kinds…”. The original meaning of this verse is ‘every time’ or ‘whenever’ you fall into all kinds of trial, which implied that trials are unavoidable. Just as the Lord said to his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33), it meant that upon our conversion to believers, our circumstances may not necessarily be easy, without sickness, without pain, or without trouble.

Trials may come at any time and may show up in different forms. The term ‘many kinds’ is emphatic and implies that they come with different flavors. There are many types of trial, including invasion by illness, unreasonable oppression, broken relationship, being misunderstood or betrayed, natural or man-made disasters, etc. The most troubling is when one’s life and health are threatened, or one’s mind is about to collapse.

While trials may come in different forms, God’s grace is the same as well. James 1: 17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”

When James described God as “Father of the heavenly lights”, he pointed out that God’s grace is like a spectrum of light, full of many dazzling colors. When faced with a trial, we can overcome it with grace coming from and given by God, so that our spiritual life will not be destroyed.

Prayer: Prayer of Serenity

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage
to change the things I can,
and the wisdom
to know the difference.

─Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)