Summary: The question we are tackling this morning is asked perhaps more than any other question about God. A question people around the world are asking right at this moment.
“Why do bad things happen to Good People?”
The question we are tackling this morning is asked perhaps more than any other question about God. A question people around the world are asking right at this moment. It has been referred to as The Achilles Heel of Christianity – the question that often keeps people from becoming believers in Christ. George Barna conducted a national survey in which he polled adults across America—he asked—if you could ask God one question, what would it be? The top response was “why is there pain and suffering in the world …..why do bad things happen to good people? C.S. Lewis in his book The Problem of Pain says the problem with pain is that pain requires attention. Pain insists on being attended to.
We ask these kinds of questions, not for the purpose of some sort of intellectual debate---we ask questions like these because they affect all of us on a very personal level. These kinds of questions can either make us or break us… they can make us bitter or they can make us better. But you and I are the ones who must decide how we will allow it to affect us.
So to get an answer to this question we turn this morning to the Book of James. James is one of the most practical books in the NT. James is not
• A book of deep doctrine
• Not an explanation of how to be saved
James is a letter written to believers, who already knew the basics of the Christian faith and His intention is to drive home the importance of living out the truth. This book was written to us to help us mature in the faith. The main issue that prompted James to write is still a concern today--- if you say you believe then why do you live as though you don’t?
James begins by identifying himself simply as James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe this is James, the brother of Jesus. One of 4 sons born to Joseph and Mary. I grew up with 3 brothers and sister. If you have a large family, parents can often compare one child to another. Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister. So can you imagine growing up in a home where your brother was Jesus? How do you think it felt to literally have a perfect brother? James, why can’t you be more like Jesus??? Perhaps makes it easier to understand why James did not believe …. Until after the resurrection. But not only did James then come to faith; he was also declared an apostle and pastored the church in Jerusalem. And he was known for his profound prayer life. In fact his nickname was “old camel knees” because of callouses on his knees from praying.
James is writing to a group of Jewish believers who were undergoing severe hardship. They were hated—despised because they were Jews and they hated them as well. So James could pat them all on the back and comfort them but instead he challenges them. He says now put on your big boy pants --- because you’ve got to learn to trust God when things go bad. Grow up!
In many churches today many preach that the Christian life will always keep you healthy--- you will be wealthy --- and life will always be good. You will always be healthy, wealthy and wise. James would have laughed at those sermons – that kind of preaching would be a foreign concept to James. James never taught that becoming a believer would suddenly make all of your problems disappear and that you will live happily ever after. C.S. Lewis said that most of us don’t want a Father in heaven – we want a grandfather in heaven. You know grandparents are the ones who make everything alright. “We can spoil the kids and then send them home to their parents.
All of us face trials and while it is our tendency to ask how can I avoid these trials…. How can I make them go away? The real question should be how can I change the way I respond to hard times?
Well first of all it helps to realize that difficulties come into everyone’s life. V. 2. “Consider it joy when you fall into trials.” If you are following along in your Bible, I want you to circle the word “when” in this verse. Highlight it. James is telling us that bad things are not optional --- they are inevitable. He does not say IF you encounter bad things; he says WHEN you encounter them. Interesting word James uses here in the Greek. It means varied. It is the word for our English term, polka dot. It is not the idea that we are going to have many trials; it is the idea that we are going to have all kinds of them; varied kinds.