Summary: Pain and suffering is an opportunity for the development of Christian character.

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Title: Opportune Pain and Suffering

Text: James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:3-5

Thesis: Pain and suffering is an opportunity for the development of Christian character.

The Series:

This is the fourth message in a Lenten Series: Knowing Christ through Pain and Suffering.

The Apostle Paul wrote, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead. Philippians 3:10-11

This morning as we reflect on pain and suffering as necessary for the development of a strong faith and character… we are reminded that Jesus did not go from glory to glory without incident. In between there was a crib, a cross. We know something more of the experience of Christ as we move through the trials of life.


In 1726 Daniel Defoe wrote in The Political History of the Devil, “Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed.”

Benjamin Franklin is quoted in The Works of Benjamin Franklin published in 1817, In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

In 1936 Margaret Mitchell expanded on that thought in a line in her book Gone with the Wind when she wrote, “Death, taxes, and childbirth! There is never any convenient time for any of them.”


There is never a convenient time for some of the certainties of life… there is only the certainty of their arrival at our doorsteps. Trouble is one of the certainties of life…

I. Trials are inevitable… it is a fact of life!

• Whenever trouble comes your way… James 1:2

There are three thoughts that emerge from the text at the very onset.

A. The inevitability of something…

An inevitability is something that cannot be avoided or evaded.

On Wednesday night, a Navy ship The USS Lake Erie, sailing about 600 miles south of Hawaii, launched a missile over the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to shoot down a dead spy satellite. The size of the satellite has been likened to both a school bus and a min—van In either case, it would have made an uncontrolled reentry into Earths atmosphere in March. The satellite was intercepted 133 miles above the earth and traveling at 17,000 miles per hour. The intent was to burn up 1,000 pounds of potentially deadly fuel and let the junk would fall harmlessly to through the atmosphere and not orbit the earth as space junk. (Navy Succeeds in Intercepting Non-Functioning Satellite, Department of Defense, 2/20/2008, 11:23 P.M.,

If the satellite had not been intercepted and destroyed, it would have inevitably reentered Earths atmosphere and fallen as debris that would have been potentially harmful.

It is unfortunate that we all do not possess personal arsenals of Standard Missile 3s (SM-3s) to fire at and intercept incoming trials, troubles, tests, and temptations. Some things can be avoided or evaded… some things cannot. Those things that cannot be avoided or evaded are inevitabilities.

One version of the bible says we are to count it all joy when we experience divers temptations. Another says we are to count it all joy when we experience all kinds of testings. Another says whenever troubles come your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.

The bible does not say “if” you ever experience trials… it says “when” or “whenever” you experience trials. Trials are not a question of “if” but “when.”

The second thought is that trials are inevitable.

B. The inevitability of trials.

The word I am using is trials. The word has been variously translated as troubles, testings, and temptations. There is some difference: A trouble is something that disturbs or agitates us. A test is a critical examination for the purpose of evaluation. A temptation is an enticement or lure. And a trial is a putting to the test or proofing. They are all different and yet they are all the same. It is safe to say that troubles, tests, and temptations are all trials.

The third thought is that trials take many forms.

C. The inevitability of a variety of trials.

I mentioned earlier the variety of ways the translators inferred a multiplicity of trials:

• The Authorized Version refers to “divers temptations.”

• The NIV states “trials of many kinds.”

• The American Standard speaks of “manifold temptations.”

• The New American Standard states “various trials.”

• The Amplified Bible puts it “trials of any sort.”

We often hear about phone fraud. How can you tell if you are the mark of a phone scam? A Canadian web site called PhoneBuster suggests a number of ways to tell if you are being scammed over the phone. You can tell by asking:

• Is the offer too good to be true?

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