“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 1:3-4).
When it is possible to spiritually grow the most? Certainly not during times that are easy and demand nothing of you. You grow when your faith is tested during times of hardship. Trials serve a purpose. They have the ability to teach an important character trait−perseverance. You can have commitment in your life, but commitment means nothing without the ability to remain strong no matter what comes against you. Perseverance completes a work in your life. Persevering during trial shapes and molds you as you surrender to God's higher purpose. Trials are not enjoyable. They can be painful, “but afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:11b, NLT). Times of hardship are meant to prune your character and change the way you live–the way you face life–the way you handle new problems–the way you respond to others–the way you think. They give you a spiritual maturity that produces a fruitful harvest of peace no matter what life brings.
Joseph was trained by trial and hardship. Sold into slavery by his brothers, he faced desertion by his family and loss of freedom to live his own life. When his master's devious wife attempted to seduce him, his faith was tested and ultimately strengthened when he refused her advances, and endured her lies. Persevering in prison, his faith still grew stronger. God was with him shaping and molding his character. Joseph was ultimately rescued from his life of slavery and prison, and given the position of second in command in Egypt. When handed the opportunity to take action against his his brothers for selling him into slavery, he had no revenge in his heart. He had learned God's lesson of forgiveness and greater purpose through all he had endured. “You intended to harm me,” he told his brothers, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph saw a greater purpose in his trial, and realized that God had placed him in his position to provide a harvest of sustenance for his own people at this time in their history.
Do you persevere and allow the trials of life to mold your character? “We also rejoice in our sufferings,” Paul wrote, “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3–4). Perseverance develops character, and character produces hope. Hope inspires you to endure. Never struggle emotionally against a trial. If the Holy Spirit guides you in ways to change your circumstance, then it is His purpose to use you to change it. But you can never change a circumstance which is is beyond your control. Joseph understood this. Let your trial build perseverance in your life. When perseverance has finished its work, you will be spiritually mature, and able to stand against whatever life throws at you.