Tackling testing situations

(Photo: Unsplash/Brian Erickson)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

JAMES 1:2–4


The Bible teaches us that Christians can expect to be tested through difficult experiences. But, in the wisdom of God, such testing is revealing, productive, and fruitful. So, James encouraged his readers with this promise that testing produces perseverance and builds character.

Similarly, the apostle Peter taught the early Christians that the tests they faced were part of God's 'proving' work in their lives, like a refiner producing gold:

'These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed' (1 Peter 1:6–7).

Sometimes our daily work can be especially tough. We get stressed by the impossible demands placed on us, frustrated by customers or organisational bureaucracy, or bored with the repetitive nature of our tasks. We may feel trapped at home, or in a work situation from which we can't easily escape. Or we may feel pressured to conform to the culture of our organisation, to the extent that we compromise our beliefs and our behaviour. We hit rock bottom when we are made redundant and worry how we will pay the rent.

How might we respond in such situations? We could sink deep into despair at how life seems to be treating us. Or, it may be that God wants us to do something else or move somewhere else. The grass usually looks greener over the other side of the fence, at least at first. But, moving isn't necessarily the right answer. We might change jobs, move cities or countries, and simply take our problems with us.

Or it may be that God wants us to stay right where we are. Maybe God wants a new person in our job – and that person is us! In God's good design, our difficult situations – that demanding customer, that punishing schedule, that strained relationship – may produce a change in us that would not have happened otherwise.

In line with what James writes, we may well learn that our 'trials of many kinds' – whether in work or elsewhere – are key to producing perseverance and maturity in us. We discover we are exactly where God wants us to be, for our sake and the sake of those we're called to serve in our everyday lives.

Graham Hooper is a Company Director and former Senior Executive with a global infrastructure company. His latest book Proving Ground – 40 Reflections on Growing Faith at Work is published by Christian Focus. This article first appeared on the website of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC) and is printed here with permission.