The Purpose of Trials
On Wednesday, I brought to your attention in the Weekly Update that we have an exciting opportunity coming up in a few weeks, something that I declared to be one of the most significant things our church has ever put our hands to. We have been in talks with Dr. James Tour, a world-renowned synthetic chemist and nanotechnologist at Rice University who is also a Christ-follower and a member of our congregation, to help produce a podcast that will reach a world that constantly questions the relationship between science and the Christian worldview. This podcast will be called the Science & Faith Podcast with Dr. James Tour, and we are going to use our annual August Apologetics series to help launch it! In preparation for this new podcast, go ahead and subscribe to Dr. Tour’s YouTube Channel here where you’ll find a number of videos posted already.
We will have more information about this podcast soon. I am extremely excited about this project. It’s one of the joys that have come out of this season of COVID-19 that might not have happened otherwise.
It’s odd to say that isn’t it? That joys have come out of this season, a season that has dispersed us to our homes and forced us to reconfigure, postpone, or cancel many of our plans? But it’s true—there has been joy in it that we can find. God does this all the time, in fact. When this quarantine season began, we started a series called “Into the Wilderness” where we examined this exact idea, that God always works with His people through a wilderness for His glory and our good. We even included video testimonies from many within our Church Family to attest to this, videos from youth to senior citizens.
Now, this past Sunday we began a series called “No Filter: Real Talk from James.” James (the half-brother of Jesus, not Dr. James Tour from above), writes a letter to the early church of believers who have been dispersed. Sound familiar? But rather than a virus keeping the early church apart, a sharp rise in dangerous persecution caused them to scatter (Acts 8:1). What did James desire to tell them about being scattered? “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2 ESV). Joy? Joy in the face of trials? Being joyous is the last thing we want to be in hard times! But rather than assuage the situation by telling them to simply move on from the struggle of the trial, James redirects them toward the purpose of the trial, and that purpose is a maturity in their faith. “Consider it pure joy . . . because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2–4 NIV).
I believe that there are things we learn and opportunities that present themselves only when we’re in trials and wilderness seasons. That’s why the Science & Faith Podcast is happening. That’s why we’ve established with excellence our Online Experience. That’s why this year’s Easter services had the highest attendance we’ve ever had for anything. One of our staff members has said, “God does not waste a day.” Whether a day has trial or tranquility, God’s goal for each day is to mature us in our faith in Him through steadfastness, through perseverance.
I pray that today you see the ways in which God is working in your life to form you into the mature believer He desires you to be. We’ll see you on Sunday for the next part of our “No Filter” series, whether we see you on-campus or online (see our schedules below). Have a good and safe weekend, Church Family.
Roger Patterson is the Senior Pastor of the CityRise Network, leading multiple congregations in lifting our city and the world by generously giving the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Roger lives in Houston with his wife Julee, and three children.