Summary: Pass the tests of life when you rejoice in the trial, remain through the trial, and request wisdom from the trial.
Three old men were at the doctor for a memory test. The doctor said to the first old man, "What is one plus one?"
"Two hundred seventy-four," he replied.
The doctor said to the second man, "It's your turn. What is one plus one?"
"Tuesday," replied the second man.
The doctor said to the third man, "Okay, your turn. What's one plus one?"
"Two," said the third man.
"That's great!" said the doctor. "How did you get that?"
"Simple," said the third man. "I subtracted 274 from Tuesday." (John Fehlen, Stanwood, Washington; www.PreachingToday. com)
It seems that no matter how old you get, you’re always taking a test of some kind. If it’s not a memory test, it’s a medical test, a test in school, or a test of wills with your 5-year-old granddaughter. Life is full of tests, some of which are easy like those tests you used to take in school. But some of the tests of life are very hard like a diagnosis of cancer, or living with constant pain, or losing someone you love.
Most of us figured out how to pass those tests in school, but How do you pass the tests of life? How do you come out on the other side of the trial a better person, not a bitter one? How do you come out more like Christ and less like the devil?
Well, there is a little book in the New Testament, which God put there to show us how. The Holy Spirit moved on the heart of the pastor of the church in First Century Jerusalem to write this book. The church had experienced hunger and poverty when a drought came to the area, so much so that they were dependent on relief from generous Gentile believers far away (Acts 11:27-30). They had also suffered great persecution, with the government executing one of its key leaders and imprisoning others (Acts 12:1-5).
The pastor of the Jerusalem church was no stranger to suffering, and he writes to a group of Jewish believers in Jesus, who were suffering too. They had been scattered throughout the Roman Empire (James 1:1) and were far away from home where they experienced discrimination and oppression from strangers (James 2:6-7).
In this context, the Holy Spirit moves a pastor in pain to write to people in pain with a message that still resonates today. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to James 1, James 1, where we have the introduction to that message and the start of an answer to the question: How do you pass the tests of life?
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. (ESV)
James, the pastor of the church in Jerusalem, is writing to Jewish believers dispersed throughout the Roman world, and he says to them…
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds… (ESV)
Now, wait a minute! That doesn’t make sense, but it is absolutely necessary if you are going to pass the tests of life. If you want to come out on the other side of the trial a better person, and not a bitter one, you must first of all…
REJOICE IN THE TRIAL.
“Count it all joy” the Bible says. Be joyful even when life doesn’t make sense. Now, that doesn’t mean laugh it off when trouble comes.
It means have a good attitude in the midst of your pain. Turn your pouting into praise in times of adversity.
That’s what Jeff and Rebecca Payne did just this last November (28, 2016) when they got stuck in traffic on the way from their wedding ceremony to the reception. An accident on U.S. Route 35 in Ohio had stopped the traffic, and they were stuck.
Well, after sitting still for an hour, a couple of other drivers noticed the wedding dress and asked what [the newlyweds] would be doing if they weren't stuck in traffic. The drivers then suggested that the couple have their first dance right there on the highway.
Jeff and Rebecca decided to do it. They got out of the car and danced to an Alison Krauss song, which a bystander played on his Spotify Web Player.
Another bystander, who filmed the dance, said that the newlyweds “were two sports. They handled the whole thing so well. They did great. The dance turned it into a party.”
Soon after that, a friend of the groom's father pulled up in the opposite lane. The Paynes hopped over a guardrail, got into his waiting car, and proceeded to their reception.” (“Wedded Couple Stuck in Traffic Take First Dance on Highway,” The Huffington Post, 11-29-16; www.PreachingToday.com)
I love that! Dancing in the middle of a traffic jam! It’s a picture of what God calls us to do when our lives get jammed up. Instead of fussing and fuming, get out and dance! Have a good attitude in the midst of your pain.