Summary: Ther will always be mystery when it comes to suffering. We would certainly desgin the Christian life to have less suffering and more fun. But God has a different plan.
Passage: James 1:9-18
Intro: It’s the most common theological question asked.
1. it is asked when hurricanes slam ashore and thousands die.
2. when tsunamis come without warning and kill 200,000
3. when a mom comes to the day of delivery and her twins are still-born
4. If God is good, how could He let this happen?
5. and when our engines break down or we don’t make the team or our health fails or a loved one is taken we ask.
6. so when James tells us to “consider it pure joy”, we want to know why how we can.
7. there is no greater motivation to turn away from God than unexplained trouble.
8. so James is going to explain them, but recognize that at the end there will still be mystery.
9. there must be mystery if there is going to be faith.
I. Every Situation, Good or Bad, is a Potential Test
1. James begins in v9 discussing the rich and poor.
2. easy for us to say “being poor is bad trouble, being rich is just good!”
3. but both are believers, and both have a choice.
4. the poor man can grumble about poverty, lose sight of spiritual riches.
5. the rich man can focus on $, lose sight of his real riches, his “low” in the worlds eyes position.
6. the rich believers wealth is fleeting, but spiritual riches are forever.
7. every situation has test potential, because God is a tester, a trainer seeking to move us in a direction.
8. in v12, God is clearly the test sender, since the goal is one Satan would never seek.
9. we tend to believe tests and trials came after the Fall, but they did not.
10. this was a call to faith, to trusting obedience.
11. the trial was then what it still is now; an opportunity to trust God.
12. the Bible is full of references to God sending trials, but there is a shift in the nature of those trials when sin enters the world.
II. Sin Has Added the Element of Trouble to Tests
1. the test of Adam and Eve was not a temptation, because God cannot tempt.
2. but the serpent added temptation to the test, seeking to challenge the good purpose behind it.
PP Genesis 3:1ff
3. Adam and Eve took the bait, and sin and death entered the world and changed tests to trials.
4. vv14-15, because of the death of our spiritual connection to God, we were slaves of our flesh
5. flesh alone is capable of and responsible for all the sin there is.
6. trials are still opportunities to trust God, but they now take place in a fallen world riddled with sin and death, the playground of the flesh.
7. the whole creation is in agony, groaning under the weight of God’s promised judgment against sin.
PP Genesis 3:17b-19
8. so now the trials, even for believers, are part of that curse, full of pain.
PP pictures, one after the other, of trouble.
8. all this trouble has made Satan’s job of temptation much easier.
9. He points to the mess and says, “How could a God that claims to be good allow all this undeserved pain.”
10. we don’t mind when there is a clearly sinful “cause and effect” to trouble.
Il) if the “Baseline killer” is guilty, we will rejoice that he receives justice.
11. but we don’t see all trouble as justice.
Il) I had an uncle who was making a ministry flight in Labrador, returning from taking presents to an orphanage. Got caught in a whiteout and crashed into a frozen lake and died. How is that just?
12. it is just because we live in a world under judgment, and so trouble has become normal, the way it is
13. recognize this: the world should and could be incredibly worse.
14. if not for the kindness and mercy of God, we would live in a world of absolute constant terror.
III. God Uses the Troubles of a Sinful World to Redeem and Remake His People
1. we have made a choice, and it is sin
2. but God does not leave us there.
3. we have chosen trouble, but God even uses that short term trouble to save us from eternal trouble.
4. Satan tempts so that evil will come of the trials, hatred for and rejection of God as the source of wisdom.
5. but don’t be deceived!! V16
6. God has taken these trials, as painful and troubling as they are, and is using them redemptively in our lives.
Il) each of us who believe are the result of Jesus’ redemptive suffering.
7. He did the greatest part of that by sending His innocent and perfect Son into the world to experience the fullness of unjust trials in order to save us.