Summary: God wants you to experience joy even in the midst of your trials.
Woodlawn Baptist Church
July 31, 2005
In James 1:1-4, James wrote,
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
This morning I would like to speak to you about trials: about what they are and how we should approach them. I hope that you will receive a blessing from this message and that your faith in Christ will be strengthened as the result of it.
Sometimes our trials may seem to be very simple, and other times we feel like we are drowning in them. The other day I met with a friend to talk with him about a mission work he is going to begin. He has been pastoring a traditional kind of church. It is the kind of church he could retire from if he so desired, but he has sensed God moving him in another direction for many months now. As he resigns his church with a steady salary and leaves the church parsonage behind for lower pay and to move into a fifth wheel camper, that brother is going to face some new trials ahead.
A young man I know who has a wife and two kids is driving to work in their only car when the transmission goes out. They live from paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford the $1,400 repair.
A mother who has raised her children in church and sent them to a Christian school finds out that her daughter wants to quit school because she is pregnant and is "in love."
I look around me this morning and think of you. I think of Brother Sulton facing the possibility of losing his other foot, or the Clintons having to take on the role of parents for their parents needing special care. Some of your trials are financial. School is about to start: you need to buy school supplies and some new school clothes, but maybe you need tires too, or you’re struggling enough just to put gas in the car each week without the added expenses coming up. I think about Michael having to travel to Thailand, and Shellie getting to prepare for the start of the school year with him overseas. There are dozens of other situations that you are facing, some we know about and others that you are quietly enduring.
Trials have a tremendous effect on our lives, and they have the power to either make us or break us. How do you react to trials? And how are you handling the trials you are facing right now? Do you blame others? “If those people had done this or that thing then my situation would be better.” Do you use escape tactics? Do you run to a drink? To the fridge? To a pack of cigarettes? Do you “veg” out on television when the pressures of life get to be too much? Maybe you don’t want to deal with your trials, so you deny them or try to minimize them. “She’s just being a kid – this problem really isn’t all that bad.”
You may be like the hunters I read about. Some organization offered a bounty of $5,000 for wolves captured alive. It turned Sam and Jed into fortune hunters. Day and night they scoured the mountains and forests looking for their valuable prey. Exhausted one night, they fell asleep dreaming of their potential fortune. Suddenly, Sam awoke to see that they were surrounded by about fifty wolves with flaming eyes and bared teeth. He nudged his friend and said, “Jed, wake up! We’re rich!”
Now, either God is a liar and James is out of touch with reality, or there is something truly extraordinary that happens in the life of a believer when he faces and endures the trials that come his way. As you think about your particular trials, are they strengthening and developing your faith, or are they wearing you down?
James says here that we are to have joy in the midst of our trials, but really, can we count it all joy in these situations? Can we have joy in the midst of hell on earth? Can you experience abundant living when life dishes out more and more grief? I believe we can. I want you to see that by accepting and trusting three basic ideas about trials found in this passage, you can learn to maintain a right attitude in your trials, giving God the freedom He needs to produce in you the quality of life that you want, and the fruit of life that will ultimately bring great honor and glory to His name.