Summary: Trials are designed to mature us. Growing old is not synonomous with growing up
Truth about Trials
* (Show clip from Forrest Gump – Life is like a box of chocolates) – Did you hear that last line? “You never know what you are going to get.” My comment is that while there is ‘some’ truth in the previous statement, I believe there is more truth in this one; “Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly sweet but with a few pits.” Now this is a statement which I can truly understand. I know about the concept of “life in the pits.” And our text speaks directly about the trouble times in our lives.
* A little girl walking in a garden noticed a particularly beautiful flower. She admired its beauty and enjoyed its fragrance. "It's so pretty!" she exclaimed. As she gazed on it, her eyes followed the stem down to the soil in which it grew. "This flower is too pretty to be planted in such dirt!" she cried. So she pulled it up by the roots and ran to the water faucet to wash away the soil. It wasn't long before the flower wilted and died. When the gardener saw what she had done, he cried, "You've destroyed my finest plant." "I'm sorry," she said, "but I didn't like it in that dirt." The gardener replied, "I chose that spot and mixed the soil because I knew that only there could it grow to be a beautiful flower."
* Often we complain about the circumstances (dirt) of life we are placed in. Yet, God (the gardener) places each of us in the very dirt where we can grow to be our best. What we fail to realize is that the trials, tests, and troubles, we go through are all a part of the maturing or growing up process. “Growing Old and growing up” are not necessarily synonymous.
* If we are honest, most of us don’t like the dirt (I.E. trials, tests, troubles, and circumstances) of life. Too many have inadvertently bought into the modern day “pop-theology” which says, “Give your life to God and you’ll have plenty of everything you need.” James gives us 4 words which explain about trials.
1) Reality - Part of the reason we have so much problem handling our problems is because we don’t expect problems to come to “ME”. (Note: James is dealing with trials and tests here. He will talk about temptations later.) The text gives us the reality of “when.” It doesn’t say ‘if’, ‘should’, or ‘on the outside chance’, it says “WHEN” trials comes. Trials are coming! Jesus tells us in John 16 that ‘in this world you will have tribulation, trials, and/or suffering.’ Our text says we will ‘experience’ while the KJV used the word ‘fall’ into trials. The word actually means both, “To fall into as to be encompassed by.” And the reality is that it won’t just be one trial or one test or one difficulty. James says it will be “various,” “divers(e)”, all sorts, numerous, and assorted types of trials. A trial in God’s hand is a tool to develop us while a temptation in the hand of Satan is a weapon to destroy us. Satan works from the inside to harm while God works to help.
* When we are ill-prepared for the trial, it tends to mess us up so we try to run from it. You can run, but you cannot hide, trials will find you.
* Paul Harvey tells the story of Patricia Christy. “After Hurricane Andrew, she found herself in a long line for food in South Florida. She vowed that she was getting out of Florida on the first plane and would get as far away from the horror of hurricane damage as she possible could & have a restful vacation. Less than 2 months later, Paul Harvey heard from her once again. She was standing in line for fresh water on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, having just gone through Hurricane Aniki.
* Think about your life this past week. Allow your mind to relive one particular trial and ask God to show you His hand in this trial. As an aside, most of us are either ‘in’ a trial, coming out of a trial, OR about to go into a trial; because trials are prevalent. “Why is this,” you may ask?
2) Reason – The text says, “Knowing that the testing (trying, examination) of your faith produces endurance. Trials come into our lives to test or examine us and our progress of faith, that is, how spiritually mature we have become. One reason it is so important to have the mindset that tough days are coming is to be ready to pass the test. Look down at verse 12. In school, teachers enjoyed giving ‘pop-tests.’ Now these types of tests were unannounced & were tools used by the teacher to see how you were progressing. It also revealed to YOU whether you were staying caught up or not. Trials work or produce in our lives. It is only through the trials that we can develop steadfastness, consistency, patience, and endurance. Too often we are so weak that we fall by the wayside at the first sign of trouble. Trials are to the spiritual what exercise is to the physical. Many people walk for exercise. Walking works almost every part of your body. It causes blood rate to increase, respiratory follows, joints are in gear, ligaments & tendons gets worked; almost every system gets a boost. This is exactly like the trials in our lives, they work us! Yes, they hurt. Yes, it’s tough. Yes, it really is not comfortable. However, God is not as interested in our comfort as He is in our commitment. God grows people to produce spiritual fruit.