If you know anything about me, it’s probably that I am always doing something.
I am always busy doing something for the Lord.
But the last couple of weeks has been different,
I’ve had a viral infection that has really knocked the wind out of my sails.
And one thing I have done a lot of over the last few days is thinking.
Dangerous I know.
I’ve been thinking about the difficult days we all go through, the times of trial, the bad days.
I suggest that all of us have experienced bad days, difficulties or trials in our lives.
For many of us there have been times when we have worried about something.
Maybe right now you are experiencing difficulty. Maybe there are problems, situations, or circumstances that have knocked the wind from your sails.
Have you ever asked the question:
“Why do things always happen to my family?”
What Did I do to deserve this?
have you ever felt like you just wanted to
give up… or run away?
At times we can all feel like throwing in the towel we just hate going through hard times.
Why Do Troubles Come?
The “why” question hits the hardest and it hurts the most; and it’s the question that often lingers the longest.
James was the half brother of Jesus, same mother, different father.
The book of James was written to people who had experienced pain and persecution and had been scattered to different places.
This book, similar to the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament, deals with the practical aspects of the walk of faith.
If we have faith that works, it will be seen in how we face trials (chapter one),
how we treat people (chapter two),
how we talk (chapter three),
how we deal with sin in our lives (chapter four) and how we pray (chapter five).
It’s interesting that the very first topic that James tackles is how to treat our trials.
James 1:2-8 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
I think we could nominate James 1:2 as one of the most amazing statements in the entire Bible: “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
In the 108 verses of the book of James, James gives us 54 different commands – and this is the first one.
“Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
This verse is so powerful, let’s look carefully at the various phrases.
This word “consider” carries with it the idea of counting.
It’s literally the idea of “pressing your mind down on something.”
Leading your mind through a reasoning process to arrive at a conclusion.
There is also a sense of urgency.
We’re to weigh our worries, calculate our trials and put them in perspective.
We need to understand that the main priority in our lives is not our pleasure,
the main priority in our lives should be the purposes of God.
Our happiness is important but our holiness is the main priority.
The life of a Christian should display the marks, the indications, the reality,
of a life lived with a focus on God.
With Christ at the centre, surrounded by the love of the Father, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Whatever circumstance or situation you’re facing today, whether it’s a health situation,
or a money problem,
or a prodigal child,
or relational rupture,
right here, right now, in that situation,
you have the opportunity to shine for Christ.
“Consider it pure joy...” The unanimous testimony of the writers of the New Testament is that we can find joy in the midst of tribulation.
1 Peter 4:13 says: “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
Instead of withering, we need to worship.
When someones asks how you are, do you just say “fine” and change the subject?
Instead of just telling people that we’re “surviving” we can actually give testimony that we’re thriving through Christ.
The only way we can do this is to understand that there is a purpose in all of our problems.
James is not saying the trials are joyful in themselves but they are a means to an end which is joyful.
In other words, joy in trials comes from knowing that the outcome will ultimately be positive.
We tend to equate “happiness” with joy but they are two totally different ideas because they each spring from a different source.
One comes from the world around us.
The other originates directly from the Spirit of the Living God.
Happiness is conditioned by and often dependent upon what is “happening” to us.
If people treat me well, if things are going OK in my life, then I’m happy.
If my circumstances aren’t favorable, then I’m unhappy.
Friends, real joy comes only from God and arrives when we spend time in His Word.
“Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters Whenever you face trials”
“Brothers & Sisters” is a term of affection, a phrase that communicates that we’re all part of the family of God. James is giving this command as a plea based on relationship.
“Whenever you face trials…” The New King James translates it: “When you fall into.”
That’s how it feels, isn’t it?
You’re minding your own business and SLAP!
Notice it doesn’t say, “if” you fall into trials but “when” you face them.
“Of many kinds…” In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, many kinds is the same phrase that is used to describe Joseph’s coat of many colours.
Our trials are different from each others aren’t they?
What you’re going through is probably different from what I’m going through
but that’s because God desires for each of us to grow through His own customized training program.
Some suffering is tough and tragic,
trials can be difficult and devastating.
We should never wish that we had someone else’s trial because God is using that individual’s time to accomplish His purposes in that person’s life, and He has something different that He’s trying to teach you.
James 1:3 says “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance”
The word “testing” here refers to how precious metals are heated until they become liquid and all the impurities rise to the top so they can be scraped off.
Job 23:10: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
“God often puts us in situations that are too much for us so that we will learn that NO situation is too much for Him.”
Do you know what God’s number one purpose is for you and for me?
To make us more like Jesus and He uses the stuff in our lives to get us there.
There are some benefits that come from bad things.
We see this from the word “develops.”
Trials produce staying power.
The word that James uses is “perseverance.”
The word is sometimes translated as “patience” or “endurance”.
The actual Greek word comes from two words – one means to “remain” and the other means “under.”
The testing of your faith produces the ability to remain under.
When we face a trial we want out, we want to get on top, not be “under.”
God wants us to stick with it, to hang in there, to not bail out - to persevere.
Perseverance is the ability to shake it off and step up when a load of trials are dumped on you.
God chooses what we go through;
we choose how we go through it.
Have you ever prayed, God give me patience, give it to me NOW!
Trials lead to life transformation.
When we persevere, our trials lead to transformation.
We see this in verse 4: “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Perseverance brings us to the “intended end.”
If we persevere under pressure we will become mature.
The phrase “not lacking anything” means that all the necessary parts are present.
If we want to be mature then we must learn how to continue.
“If staying put was easy, if submitting to what God allows and giving up was simple…everyone would be doing it.
The fact is, many Christians resist letting God change them.”
Let me remind you that we’ve been learning to consider it pure joy when we face trials and we’ve focused on some of the things that trials produce in our lives.
Having said all that, most of us still have some questions.
It’s normal to wonder why.
God gives wisdom to help us understand and James 1:5 is one of those verses that gets quoted a lot but often gets taken out of context.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
God is promising here that He will give wisdom when we’re wondering why we’re going through hard things:
Wisdom refers to the ability to judge correctly and then to follow with correct conduct.
That certainly applies to tackling trials, doesn’t it? God gives in two ways… generously and graciously.
God gives generously.
This is in the present tense which shows that God just keeps giving and giving and giving.
That reminds me of Ephesians 3:20: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
God gives graciously.
When God gives wisdom He’s not out to find fault with us and He gives it to all, without playing favourites by bestowing wisdom on just a few.
For those of us in Christ, we need to claim the promise of Romans 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Let me encourage you to ask God for wisdom,
for insight into the next gap He wants to fill between who you’ve been and who He wants you to be.
We need wisdom in our trials so that we will not waste our trials and miss what it is that God wants to teach us.
Ask Him for staying power even while you’re suffering.
You say, “I can’t figure it out.” God says, “I will direct your steps.” This is from Proverbs 3:5-6.
Ask God to deal with your doubts. We see this in verse 6: “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
If we don’t deal with our doubts we are blown around by the wind and washed away by the waves.
If we don’t really want to stand up under and know how it is that God wants us to grow, verse 7 is like a slap in the face: “That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
Do you really want wisdom? Then you must be willing to receive whatever God wants to do in you, trials included.
According to verse 8, a doubter “is a double-minded person, unstable in all they do.”
John Bunyan in “Pilgrim’s Progress” called this, “Mr. Facing-Both-Ways.”
A doubter is like a fence sitter who is trying to have it both ways:
“I want what God wants,
but I don’t want what He wants.
I want to grow
but I also want to moan.
I want to learn
but I’m tired of feeling like a loser.
I want to get better
but I like staying bitter.
I want to be reconciled
but the thought of revenge seems so sweet.”
When we’re conflicted like this, we end up becoming very unstable.
This word was used to describe one who is unsettled, unsteady, staggering, and reeling like a drunken man.
Someone has said if your heart and mind are divided, trials will tear you apart.
If you’re a follower of Christ, you are one of God’s children and you have the strength and comfort of the Holy Spirit within.
You have the Word of God giving wisdom to direct your path.
What is it that you’re waiting for?
Instead of running away or bailing or giving up, determine to wait.
Take every step in obedience while you’re waiting.
Strive to serve the Saviour.
Don’t let your faith faint.
Keep on running the race even while you wait.
Trials are designed to teach us so that our conduct and our character changes.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
When you are in a trial, situation, circumstance, bad day let this verse capture your focus
And remember God works His good through our trials when we pray and when we stay.
Think about God’s faithfulness.
The prophet Jeremiah’s writings are filed with “why” questions as he lists his grievances with God.
But when he’s finished, he forced himself to think about what is true. Listen to what he wrote in Lamentations 3:19-23: “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
God has a solution to match your suffering
choose to claim His promises.
Allow God to work.
Sometimes God calms the storms around us and other times He calms us within.
Even though your circumstances may not change, God can use them to change you.