Summary: Faith may not deliver you from suffering, but faith will get you through suffering; not just surviving it, but thriving in spite of it.
Connect the Dots
??Persevering Through Trials
Faith may not deliver you from suffering, but faith will get you through suffering; not just surviving it, but thriving in spite of it.
“The just shall live by faith.”
Three Keys to Enduring Faith:
1. Get the right perspective 1:2-8
Decide to embrace the pain. vv.2-4??
If we gripe and complain in our suffering, it doesn’t make it better, it makes it worse.?
Decipher the plan of God vv. 5-8?
This suffering you’re going through is a test to prepare you for success, not failure.
2. Embrace the hope. 1:9-12
3. Deploy your faith. 1:13-18
Today we begin a summer series out of the book of James. James was written by the half-brother of Jesus. By that I mean, they both had Mary as their mom, but obviously the Spirit of God was the paternal procreator for Jesus and Joseph was that for James and the other brothers. He didn’t believe his half-brother was the Messiah until after the resurrection, but then when he did come to believe it, he was all in and became the leader of the church in Jerusalem until his martyrdom in about 65 A.D.? In verse 1, we find that he addresses the letter to the 12 tribes of Israel dispersed abroad. This would be called the diaspora. It originally applied to those Jews who lived outside of Israel. James coops the term and applies it to all Christ-followers, the true Israel, where ever they are.
James is probably THE most practical book in the New Testament. When you study it you see that James is a straight-forward, no-nonsense, in your face kind of guy. You ever know someone like that? No him-hawing around—they spoke the unvarnished truth? That’s James. James probably the 1st of the letters or epistles in our N.T., written about 45 A.D. The theme of the book, is ‘Genuine faith produces a genuine life.’ Already in the early church, there were counterfeit gospels, false teachings, and dangerous understandings about how the Christ-life was to be lived out. Many would confess their faith in Jesus, only to live in a way that showed little or no impact of the true, transformative Gospel. His contention was that a life truly impacted by God’s glorious grace WILL be a life that reflects that reality in every way, whether rich or poor, safe or persecuted. ? And the first issue he takes on in his letter is suffering. Even a quick glance at the headlines speaks to the untold suffering in our world. Syrian president Assad has murdered 100s of 1000s of his own people (pic). Over 100,000 Sudanese are starving to death (pic). During Hurricane Harvey, (pic) dumped 20 trillion gallons of water on the Texas gulf coast, costing over $125 Billion dollars of damage and 10s of 1000s either have no home to move in or are not in their home yet almost a year later.? But we don’t have to look around the world to see and experience suffering-- there is unspeakable suffering in our own lives. (read 5-10 prayer requests from previous weeks) When suffering enters our lives, either invited by our own poor choices, or uninvited by the poor choices of others, how do we deal with it?
Let me cut to the chase: there is only one response to suffering that can recue us in the midst of suffering—and that is faith. Now I know you’re wanting a more satisfying answer. You want me to give you a magic formula to drink that will take away your suffering. You want me to give you the right things to say and the right things to pray and the right verses to quote and claim so that your suffering or the suffering of your loved one will end. But there is no magic formula, there are no right words, right prayers, or right verses. The only way to be rescued in the midst of suffering is by faith. The greater the trial, the greater the adversity, the deeper the pain…the more critical your faith is. Faith may not deliver you from suffering, but faith will get you through suffering; not just surviving it, but thriving in spite of it.
As James writes this letter, Christ-followers are being hunted down, tortured and imprisoned and even martyred by Jewish authorities in Israel, and by the Roman government throughout the Empire. They lived in an evil and broken world then just like we do today. So this is no pie in the sky, out of touch with reality prescription. This is the message of God to His people throughout the Bible: “The just shall live by faith.” Genesis 15:6, Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38