Summary: The difference between tragedy and triumph is all in how you count your trials. James says by an act of the will count it all joy when tried.
Imagine the testing of the body in such a sport as football. To be
on your feet and seconds later brought to the ground hard and fast.
Then to get up and do it again, and again, and again, but constantly
moving forward. All of that falling is not what wins the game, but
whether or not you win depends a great deal on how you fall. In
fact, it has been pointed out that when the coaches begin to train
their teams the first lesson they teach is not how to make a
touchdown, but how to fall. For days they learn to fall limp and to
roll so as not to be injured. There is nothing good about a fall. It is
only a hindrance to reaching the goal, but if you don't learn how to
fall successfully it is not likely you will ever get a chance to reach the
goal. All the training is not to cross the goal line, but to survive until
you get there.
What is true in football is likewise true in life in general. If we
hope to make life a successful experience, and reach some worthy
goals, the first thing we need to learn is how to fall. Life is always
filled with obstacles to overcome. Scripture says, "Man is born to
trouble as the sparks fly upward." And, "Man that is born of a
woman is a few days, and full of troubles," says the book of Job.
The Bible from Genesis to Revelation gives a realistic picture of life,
and that picture looks more like a washboard than a slide. We must
face the facts of Scripture and history and realize that the future
holds trials, troubles, and for some even tragedy. This realism in the
Bible, however, is combined with an optimism because it reveals to
us the way to triumph through our trials.
The Bible is very practical and one of the books most noted for
being practical is the book of James. It was written by James, not
the Apostle, but James the brother of our Lord. It was written by a
man who grew up with Jesus in the same family, and who knew his
teachings very well. There are more references to the Sermon on the
Mount in James than in all the other Epistles put together. It also
has the distinction of being one of the first books of the New
Testament to be written. It was written about 45A.D.; less than 20
years after the death of Jesus. The very first lesson that James
teaches, like that of the football coach, is the lesson on how to fall, or
if we were to give it a title we might call it, The Secret Of Successful
Suffering. In these first few verses James tells us of three
requirements necessary for the successful suffering of trials. The
I. A POSITIVE RESPONSE OF THE WILL TO TRIALS.
Verse 2. The difference between tragedy and triumph is all in how you
count your trials. James says by an act of the will count it all joy
when tried. Don't let circumstances take you captive and control
your life, but compel them to yield the fruit of joy by a choice of the
will. The Christian is never to be under the circumstances, always
on top of them. Faith does not change what life brings to you, but it
is to change what you bring to life. Every trial calls for a choice that
involves the will. It is not what happens that determines a person
attitude, but how they chose to count what happens. One man can
get a flat on the way to work and count it a blast from the hand of
fate, and be upset all day because he lost an hour of work. Another
can have the same experience and count it as the providential
protection of God that may have saved his life, and he rejoices all
day in thanksgiving to God. The difference between the scowling
crab and a smiling Christian is all in how you count your trials. The
scowler counts them a jinx; the smiler counts them a joy.
The Bible has a high view of man's will power, especially after he
has been delivered from being dominated by the forces of evil. For
James to say, count it all joy, it is assumed that if they will so choose
they have the will power to do so, and only if they do can they be
successful in their suffering. James can urge them, warn them, and
counsel them, but only they can make the choice, but they can if they
When those two planes crashed in mid air some years ago killing
all aboard there were three men who watched it on the radar screen.