Sermons

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

first is

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

will.

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.

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