Summary: Some people consider it pure joy when they escape trials. But James calls us to consider it pure joy when we face trials. This seems like an impossible thing to be able to do. What do we need to have if we are going to have joy in the midst of trials?
FACING TRIALS WITH JOY
INTRODUCTION: Some people consider it pure joy when they escape trials. But James calls us to consider it pure joy when we face trials. This seems like an impossible thing to be able to do. What do we need to have if we are going to have joy in the midst of trials?
1) Understanding (1:3-4). The first thing we need to understand is that there will be trials. James said in verse two-when you face trials. He didn’t say if, he said when. This is similar to what Paul said in 2nd Tim 3:12 when he said that anyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted. He didn’t say might be, he said will be. It’s the same here. We can endure testing with joy when we realize that trials are going to come and we need not be surprised by them or think that we did something bad to have it happen to us. When Job went through his time of testing there was an important aspect to his perseverance. 1:20-22, 2:9-10. If we think God is doing something wrong in allowing testing and trial to come our way then there is no way we will persevere through it; especially with joy. If we are going to be joyous in the midst of our trials we need to understand that God is not being cruel and unjust by allowing trials. We also need to understand the purpose behind the trials. When we can understand that God isn’t apathetically throwing trouble our way but instead is only doing what’s best for us then we can accept what he allows to come our way with joy, knowing that persevering through this adverse situation will make me wiser, stronger and closer with God. Paul said in Rom. 5:3-4 that we rejoice in our sufferings because they produce perseverance, character and hope. Going through trials and having to endure suffering is a spiritual benefit to us when we understand the purpose behind it. 1st Pet. 1:3-7. Our faith needs to be tested. We need to know if our faith is genuine. A genuine faith can accomplish many things for God. Our genuine, active faith results in praise, glory and honor for God. We need to understand all this in order to have joy in the midst of trials.
2) Encouragement. Rom. 15:4, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” The bible is a great source of encouragement when we’re facing a time of trial and testing. Consider Job. Job’s perseverance netted him blessings at the end-a picture of what is waiting for us when we persevere. Job 42:12-17. Job was a pretty well-to-do man. But in short order he had lost everything. Job was even afflicted with painful boils and sores. Job went through the worst trial you could imagine. But, he persevered through it and in the end God blessed him more than he had before. I have drawn encouragement from Job in that if Job could persevere through what he went through, so can I. Even though Job had times in which he wasn’t very joyous in the midst of his suffering, he still persevered. We get encouragement through the scriptures and we get encouragement through others. Gal. 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” There is comfort and encouragement when someone comes along side of us in our time of need. We are encouraged when someone shares their testimony of how they persevered through a trial and that can provide us insight into what we might need to do along with the comfort and assurance knowing that what God can and did for this other person he can and will do for us if we are trusting and faithful in our trial. We need to be encouraged if we are going to persevere through trials with joy.
3) Wisdom (1:5). If we are going to persevere, we need wisdom. Wisdom allows us to not act according to our feelings during our trial. Wisdom allows us to not judge by mere appearances. When things look bleak we might assume all hope is lost. But wisdom that trusts in God allows us to see things in the proper perspective in knowing God has everything under control. Wisdom means I will conduct my decision making according to God’s will. I will not lean on my own understanding, I will not act impulsively; instead, I will handle things wisely. But this appeal for wisdom needs to be with the trust that God will provide it (vs. 6-8). God has promised to generously give us wisdom, not because we deserve it for he does so without finding fault; which means even if I mess-up I can ask for wisdom to make a better choice next time and he’ll grant it. I need to believe that God is the source of true wisdom I need to believe that God’s wisdom is what is necessary for me to endure, with joy, this affliction I’m going through. I cannot doubt the wisdom of God for if I do, I will be unstable in all I do. Being tossed about like the wave of the sea will be seen in me making rash decisions and fluctuating my thinking and reasoning and opinion back and forth during my trial that will lead to regret and more affliction! I cannot doubt the wisdom of God and what he reveals to me that I need to do in accordance to that wisdom. I will be faced with choices I need to make when I’m faced with a time of testing. If I ask for wisdom, I need to surrender to that wisdom. If I doubt, I am going to make poor choices that will cost me greatly. Wisdom is needed in order to have joy when we’re being tested.