Summary: How can we be happy when life is hard? When we remember that God is good, and that every trial can cause us to grow and become more like Jesus.
JOURNEY THROUGH JAMES #2: HOW CAN I BE HAPPY WHEN LIFE IS HARD?
INTRO TO TOPIC: Discuss the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
• Happy reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending March 1, 2014.
• The song has remained at the No. 1 position longer than any other song this year to date.
• The single passed its 4 million sales mark in April 2014, the first song of 2014 to do so.
• As of the week of May 10, 2014, Happy = on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for ten weeks.
• Why is this simple, catch little song so popular? Because people want to be happy!
• But – life is hard, and few people experience that happiness. Why? Let’s explore that…
INTRO TO JAMES:
“James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.” (James 1:1, NKJV).
• Review last week: James = the half-brother of Jesus and a leader in the early church.
I. LIFE IS HARD:
“2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NKJV).
• Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’re not going to go through hard times.
• “Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half; others were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, hungry and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world. They wandered over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All of these people we have mentioned received God's approval because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.” (Heb. 12:36-39, NLT).
• James says, “WHEN you fall into various trials,” not “if.”
• Remember when you go through trials:
o God is not punishing you, failing you or abandoning you:
Jesus has promised: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5).
o God will not necessarily make it all better for you.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GO THROUGH HARD TIMES:
1. COUNT IT JOY:
• “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
• Notice James says, “WHEN.” Trouble WILL come! (Quote John 16:33).
• You’re either in a storm, just coming out of one, or a storm is coming. Get ready!
• Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness comes and goes based on our circumstances:
o When life is going good, you can be happy.
• Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit – and the joy of the Lord is our strength.
• We can have joy even in the midst of a trial.
• “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2).
2. KNOW THE REWARD:
• “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
• Trials aren’t fun, but if they can produce patience = steadfastness & perseverance.
• Patience defined: “the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”
• Do you want to be strong and persevere? It comes after we go through trials.
• People want to be in shape without working out or eating healthy. But it’s a cause and effect thing. If you go through trials, you can develop perseverance!
3. LET PATIENCE GROW:
• “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete.”
• People say: “I want to be buff without working out! I want to learn a lot without reading books!” It’s only as you joyfully, patiently endure a trial, your character is developed!
• The end result = you become more like Jesus.
ILLUSTRATION: The birth of a giraffe. The trial strengthens it.
When a baby giraffe is born it drops ten feet to the ground and lands on its back. Within seconds, it rolls to an upright position with its legs tucked under its body. The mother giraffe lowers her head long enough to get take a quick look. Then she positions herself over the baby, waits for about a minute and then swings her leg outward and kicks her baby so that it is sent sprawling head over heels. If it doesn’t get up, the process is repeated over and over again. The struggle to rise is monumental. As the baby calf grows tired, the mother kicks it again to stimulate its efforts. Finally the calf stands for the first time, and then the mother kicks it off its feet again. Why does the mother persist? Because she knows the giraffe cannot get comfortable; it must stay with the herd for safety. Too many animals enjoy eating young giraffes.