Summary: In fact, growing numbers of people are saying that worry and stress related to coronavirus have negatively impacted their mental health. Regardless of where you think you are going or how you are feeling, James has a word for all those who find themselves in the midst of great trials.
In this short book of James, 108 verses, James the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Pastor of the first church at Jerusalem address the subject of Christianity from a very practical view. He does not try to debate philosophy and teach doctrinal theology. He simply states in chapter one what a Christian has: Real Christians have real faith that can stand under pressure.
In a pandemic marked by the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, people don’t need COVID-19 preying on their state of mind as well as their body, one psychiatrist said. Loss of job, loss of insurance, loss of housing, loss of access to health care – all of that plays into the patient’s mental health. In fact, growing numbers of people are saying that worry and stress related to coronavirus have negatively impacted their mental health. The Body of Christ has not been able to avoid the effects. Regardless of where you think you are going; regardless of how you are feeling, James has a word for all those who find themselves in the midst of great trials.
James could not be considered as a modern evangelist because his message is too confrontational. The power of God in the Christian’s life equips them to give evidence of their Christianity. Real Christianity is more than talk. Talk is cheap. James did not want the Christians to be guilty of making great claims, professing to be people of God, and not living up to the standard of Christ. Christianity must not only be believed, but it must also be lived. The proof of our faith is a changed life. Genuine faith will always produce good works. Any faith that does not produce good works is dead. And there is no salvation in a dead faith. James is writing to people on the run, people that had been scattered by severe persecution, affected by economic downturn, and a host of other challenges. I am sure they would have love to hear someone preach that these present trials will soon be over, don’t worry be happy.” But instead, he writes, in times like these, “my brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” In other words, you must allow your faith in God to the source of your joy. Learn to be joyful in the midst of pressure and persecution. As the songwriter put it, “Turn your pressure into praise”. James uses “divers temptations” which means manifold or many temptations. Somehow, the apostle is convinced that real faith can stand under pressure. This message really does not sound so good, be happy when you go through a lot of problems, a lot of pressures. He suggests that we should develop an attitude of joy in the midst of suffering. Real faith in God can rejoice in the face of difficulty. Now I don’t know about you, but I love to rejoice on the mountaintop, but James says, call on us rejoice in the midst of the valley. A Christian must learn stand under pressure because Temptation and trial cannot be avoided.
1. Temptations and Trials Cannot Be Avoided -James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
James does not say if you go through trials, but when you go through trials and difficulties, because your faith is going to be tried. Since we all must go through, it is good to hear a strong word on endurance that staying the course and keeping the faith will pay off. James gives us some instructions on how to endure trials, how to go through hard situations. If we are going to find joy in the difficult times, we must know what’s being accomplished through the trials of life. James message is not that it is all going to get better, not that everything is going to work out as you had planned, but let joy be developed in your life through difficult times.
James is leading the Jerusalem church– his members are Jewish Christians–they are hated by the Gentiles for being Jews, they are hated by the Jews for being Christian, basically nobody likes them and everyone is against them. They were forced to lead Jerusalem, their homes, their families, their jobs and wander in isolation. But in all this, James stresses, keep your attitude right, don’t give up, let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Christian can stand under pressure if they keep the right attitude and don’t give up. Temptations and trials cannot be avoided because Satan, our chief adversary uses them to try to stop us and cause us give up and distrust God. At the same, God our Father uses the same trials to mature us and develop our faith. The trying of your faith tests the realness and quality of our faith. Tests and Trials are the proving ground for true religion. The man that stands in such trials gives proof that his religion is sound, and the evidence afforded to his own mind and heart causes him to take courage, bear trials patiently, and persevere. Christians must endure temptations and trials because they cannot be avoided, secondly, they are God’s school of Spiritual Development.