22. The Surprising Joy/Test-Tribulation-Temptation Connection

     After writing on the sorrow/joy connection, I came across this:

The tree dug in,
 facing fiercest wind,
   will stand well past tomorrow;
It's the deepest roots
 which yield sweetest fruits,
   though grown by greatest sorrow.

    As I go through this week’s BELIEVE material on Joy, I am finding that this lesson is the one out of all 22 chapters so far which I need to learn the most. Of all of the lessons, this is the one I score the least for the test on page 171. Ironically, this is also the one Randy Frazee’s wife gives testimony that she too struggled with the most.

    Why? Here’s my theory: there is a love connection with joy and a sorrow connection with joy, but there is also a temptation / tribulation / testing connection with joy. I fail to enter into the joy because I falter at one or all of the “Triple T” connections.

    All three words, temptation, tribulation and testing are found in James chapter 1.

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face temptations (#1) of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing (#3) of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under temptations, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
27This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their tribulation (#2), and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

1.   Peirazo = Temptation with evil (James 1:2, 12-14)
    Satan is the Tempter. When we are tempted, we are not in sin, but we are in serious danger. Jesus was tempted every day of His existence, in every way (Heb. 2:18) that we are, yet He was without sin (Heb. 4:15). He is able to help us but temptation is a battle. There is an escape, 1 Cor. 10:13 say, but every temptation has the potential…
  •         of being an opportunity to get us closer to God, resulting in joy and perseverance
  •         of being an obstacle to get us closer to Satan, resulting in sorrow

     Stephen Charnock, a preacher from the 17th century, said, “A deep sense of the Divine Goodness of God would strike Satan’s temptation dead at a blow.” A way to victory is to remember God is good, divinely good and will deliver from evil (Matt. 6:13).

2.   Thlipsis = Tribulation; a pushing together, anguish, tribulation.
    John McArthur says that "Thlipsis (tribulation) has the underlying meaning of being under pressure and was used of squeezing olives in a press in order to extract the oil and of squeezing grapes to extract the juice ... In Scripture the word thlipsis is perhaps most often used of outward difficulties, but it is also used of emotional stress."

     People may think they are being tested by God, when in reality they are experiencing the natural consequence of sinful humanity. Widows and orphans have tribulations (James 1:27) not because of Satan’s temptation or God’s testing, but because of the nature of a fallen world. Joy can be found when we help people in times of trouble.

     The word "tribulation" is from the image of separating the wheat from the chaff. We experience tribulation to rely on God’s grace to purify us from the chaff. It is used by Christ in Matt. 13:21 saying the trouble robs people of their initial joy of salvation. Again in John 16:20-24, Jesus said the joy of birthing a child helps overcome the “tribulation” of labor. Paul linked the two in 1 Thess. 1:6 with joy coming from the Holy Spirit and in 1 Thes. 3:3-7, with joy coming from other believers.

    We cannot avoid the storms of the sea, but we can rest assured God will give us joy when we make it safely to the harbor.

3.   Dokimion = Testings resulting in proven character (James 1:3, Rom. 5:4)
    The third link with joy comes from God’s testing. When God puts His people into the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much we can take.

    The difference in testing and temptation is that God tests us to bring out the best, while Satan tempts us to bring out the worst.


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