Often times in counseling, I use the idea of a balloon. Like a balloon we are squeezed by our circumstances in life: jobs, family, politics, houses, et cetera. These are things that James 1 would describe as a trial (v. 15). But there are also those pressures that come from inside, like the over-inflation of a balloon, they encourage us to ‘pop’. This is the idea of James 1:13 when James refers to those inner solicitations to sin—those enticements come from within us.

Just like a balloon, we have both inner and outer pressures working concurrently: we are a sinner living in the midst of other sinners. Most often in counseling, this resonates with a counselee. They feel the squeeze of the inner and outer pressures of life; they feel the squeeze of circumstances in which they have made sinful decisions, too. The majority of counselees don’t see this with such clarity, but they clearly feel the squeeze.

One particular counselee facing financial issues could definitely feel the burden of those external pressures. He had focused on the external squeeze of investments that had floundered, and the difficulties that brought to his life. The “Aha!” moment for him came when I said that God didn’t want him to get out from underneath this trial (i.e., the “squeeze”) but that in the trial God was accomplishing His purposes. This was a game-changer!

Let me angle this a different way: God was using the financial squeeze in this brother’s life to grow him. Financial trials are a means that God uses to grow his children. And this doesn’t just mean that the money has run out, in fact, Deuteronomy 8:11 reminds us that prosperity can allow us to forget the Lord, our God. Prosperity can make its own type of unique squeeze because in prosperous times, I am less inclined to feel incapable and incompetent.

So back to the balloon: God’s will is not that we escape the external pressures that we face in life, but that in those external pressures we stand fast (James 1:12). Think of letting the air out of a balloon just before it pops. God has promised that we will not face anything that will force us to pop, because He is with us. And He is working in the middle of these pressured circumstances to accomplish His purposes. This counselee needed to hear those words, and—perhaps—so do you: God uses the squeezes in our life to accomplish His purposes, so “count it all joy when we face trials of various kinds” (James 1:2).