When Trials Come: Fight or Flight?

I have a tendency to take on more than I should. At times, it’s to prove to myself that I can handle it. At other times, it’s to please someone and gain recognition for my efforts. This sometimes leads to stress and in a worst-case scenario, depression.

When I was an IT consultant, I was tasked to work with a high-profile client and be a go-between for my company. I took on the assignment with gusto, thinking that this might be my time to shine. However, the client’s demands proved to be more than I could handle. And when push came to shove, the company chose to side with the client and try to meet his unreasonable requirements rather than stick to what we had originally offered in the contract.

As you can imagine, this led to many problems and internal squabbling, with some of the staff refusing to do anything outside their scope of work. I remember walking into office one morning, opening my laptop and staring at the blank screen for a good 5 to 10 minutes, thinking to myself: What was I doing here?

That was a difficult time in my life and it led me to ask myself whether I could avoid all these problems by taking on something less stressful instead. Perhaps, I thought, I could find a job that didn’t involve dealing with difficult people and difficult situations.

But then I realized this: Was this even possible in our fallen world? Perhaps it was, if one lived a life of solitude and avoided all contact with others. That, however, was simply not practical. Clearly, I could not run away from the challenges I faced in life: I had to deal with them.

Which left me with the question: How?

The book of James in the Bible tells us how we can respond in the face of trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Joy is probably one of the emotions we’re least likely to feel when we face challenges, yet there is value in this advice. Training ourselves to look at things from a positive point of view is far better than being trapped in a vicious circle of depression.

But why should we feel joy? The author of James explains: “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (v.3).

And how can we persevere? James tells us next: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.”

I often regret not persevering in my job. But I’ve learned that these words apply to every phase of my life. I’ve come to see that trials are meant to teach me perseverance in my faith: When faced with a trial, I should not despair, but pray that God will help me to persevere. I can keep trusting Him through the experience, so that I can better face the next challenge that comes my way.

Let us continue to seek God and pray for His wisdom to help us through our struggles and challenges in life.

“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. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”—James 1:2-5

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