Summary: When encountering a tribulation, it is a great opportunity to grow as a believer. I want to focus on four key words that hopefully will cause us all to view problems and tribulations with a little different perspective.
The Four “P’s” of Tribulation
1. What is the purpose of a thermometer? It is used to take the temperature of something. What if someone gave you a spiritual thermometer to take your spiritual temperature (1 to 10)? Would it show you red hot, on fire for Jesus, cold and indifferent, or maybe lukewarm?
2. A good spiritual thermometer to test our spiritual temperature is a tribulation or trial. Those events will quickly tell us how far we have matured in Christ. Trials have a way of revealing our faith and how deep it really is.
3. But tribulations can also help in the development of our faith if we respond properly. We all know that problems are a built-in part of life here on planet earth, but God can bring great good out of our trials.
4. This is what our text is all about. Look at verse 1. James writes this letter to encourage many believing Jews (the 12 tribes) who had encountered persecution for their faith. Many were forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives. They were displaced.
5. However, notice verse 2. James makes it clear that it is possible to still have joy through tribulation. Paul makes a similar remark in
2 Corinthians 7:4 (believe me - this doesn’t happen by accident).
6. When encountering a tribulation, it is a great opportunity to grow as a believer.
7. I want to focus on four key words that hopefully will cause us all to view problems and tribulations with a little different perspective. They all start with the letter “P.”
The first word is “perfection.” vs. 3-4
1. The word “perfect” in verse 4 means “complete.”
• So God says, “I want you to be complete and entire, resting in satisfaction and contentment.” Remember the context. These people had been forced to abandon their homes and way of life.
2. Trials and tribulations can serve the purpose of developing spiritual character in our lives. We learn to patiently endure and rely on God. This does a work in us. This has a way of chipping away the pride and self-reliance we all are prone to have.
• We like to think that we can do it alone and that we don’t need God. This is the flesh. When trials and problems come that we can’t fix, we have to patiently endure. We have no choice but to look to God and lean on Him.
3. It is important to understand that positionally we are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). But Paul, in the same book, wrote that Epaphras was praying for the Colossian believers to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” 4:12 (See also,
4. What does this teach us? We don’t always practice our completeness in Christ in our daily walk. We grow discontent, dissatisfied, unhappy, uneasy, and unthankful. This is precisely why God is not going to wave a magic wand in heaven and make all our trials go away.
5. God understands the value of suffering and trials. He wants us to fully grasp that we are complete in Christ and lean upon that which we’ve been given in Christ. He wants us to stand perfect and complete.
6. As we go through trials and come out of them, we see more and more our completeness in Christ. We understand that we don’t need outward circumstances or material things to make us happy. We’ve got it right inside of us.
• God uses these life lessons to bring perfection or completeness to our everyday lives.
The second word is “prayer.” vs. 5-8
1. Trials have a way of pushing us to prayer, don’t they? God knows this. Notice verse 5 – we see that the seeking of God’s wisdom in the midst of tribulation is through prayer.
4. We must remember, in Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3
6. When things are good and everything is turning out right, the tendency is to start getting puffed up, thinking it’s our wisdom that made all these wonderful things happen. Trials and problems have a way of knocking us down a few notches, getting us to pray and lean on God’s wisdom again.
7. Bottom line, trials have a way of teaching us how to pray. Praying with faith and total dependence upon God (vs. 6). If we never go through trials, the tendency is to not trust God and forget to depend upon Him.