Sermons

Summary: God works His good through our trials when we pray and when we stay.

How to Handle Hardship

James 1:2-5

Rev. Brian Bill

7/18/10

I came across this response from a man who was asked for additional information from an insurance company.

In blank #3 of the accident form, I put “trying to do the job alone” as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully, and I trust that the following details will be sufficient. I am a bricklayer by trade. On the date of the accident I was working alone on the roof of a new six story building. When I completed my work, I found that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which fortunately was attached to the side of the building at the 6th floor. Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out, and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of brick.

You will note in blank #11 of the accident report that I weigh 135 pounds. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull, and broken collar bone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were 2 knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind, and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of my pain.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground, and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel then weighed approximately 50 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in blank #11.

As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs, and lower body area. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of bricks, and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks, in pain…unable to stand…and watching the empty barrel six stories above me…I again lost my presence of mind and let go of the rope. The empty barrel weighed more than the rope, so it came back down on me, and broke both my legs. I hope I have furnished the information you have required.

That’s the definition of a bad day, isn’t it? Some of you are going through a barrel of problems as it feels like bricks have broken you into pieces.

As I reflected on what God taught us last week, it strikes me that instead of just moving on to another passage that deals with pain, I want to make sure we’ve fully mined the depth of James 1. And so, we’re going to do something that I’ve never done before. We’re going to camp in the same passage again but this time approach it from a slightly different angle. When we’re finished, I want to make sure that we have a practical game plan to handle hardship.

I received a moving email from a pastor in South Africa this week who has subscribed to our weekly sermon email list. Here’s what he wrote: “I had ministry ‘burnout’ during November 2009 and suffered 3 heart attacks and a stroke this year resulting in me not being able to minister at all. I am, however, recovering slowly at the moment.” After reading last Sunday’s sermon, he added these words: “This week’s message has come as if you have preached it just for me.” I’ve talked to many others who are striving to personally apply the message so I thought it would be helpful for all of us, me included, to take another shot at this same Scripture and focus more on application than interpretation.

This sentiment was clearly communicated in an email from another PBC member.

“My question is not ‘why does God hate me?’ My question is, ‘where do I go from here?’ I know in my mind and heart that God loves me more than I can possibly imagine. He sent His son to die in a most horrible way to set me…free. Yes, I have much pain and many trials to overcome and learn from. Four years ago I would have seen this as horror and thought that I could never live through it. Now, I see it as a chance. A chance to better my life in His image. Obviously God knows I need to change something - but what? How? ‘Where do I go from here?’”

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