Summary: Trials are common to all people! What is not common, however, is your response to trials. In today’s sermon, James teaches you how to respond to your trials.
Someone once posted a sheet of paper on a bulletin board with the following heading: “You know it’s going to be a bad day when. . . .”
Allow me to share a few of the “whens” with you. You know it’s going to be a bad day when. . .
• You wake up to the soothing sound of running water—and then remember that you just bought a waterbed.
• You spend $75 at the hair dresser—and when you get home your dog starts barking at you.
• People think you are 40—and you really are.
• The worst player on the golf course wants to play you for money.
• Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you find yourself following a group of Hell’s Angels down the freeway.
• It’s Nerd Day at the Junior High School—and your 14-year old son asks if he can borrow some of your clothes.
But the truth is that many of our problems in life just aren’t quite that humorous, are they?
You may be faced with problems related to family, marriage, health, vocation, career, finances, drugs, abuse, and so on. How do you deal with the problems that come your way in life?
Today, we are going to learn from the Book of James how to welcome God’s strange messengers, these trials and troubles that come our way. So, with that in mind, let’s read James 1:2-12:
"2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
"9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
"12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:2-12)
A seasoned poet once wrote, “It was pain that knocked upon my door and said that she had come to stay. And though I would not welcome her but asked her to go away, she still entered in. And like my own shadow she followed after me and from her stabbing, stinging sword no moment was I free.”
The poet describes a very difficult, painful situation. It is the problem of trials that just won’t go away.
If I could borrow the words from Shakespeare’s “A Comedy of Errors,” I would describe that person as “a wretched soul bruised with adversity.”
But that person is not unique, for in some way or another, that is a description of every one of us.
Many of you here today are bruised by your trials. And the bruises are not always the kind you can see on the outside, but they are on the inside. Some of you are bruised on the outside by physical pain and sickness. And some of you are bruised over the death of loved ones. Others of you are facing emotional trauma, relational stress, spiritual doubts, marital conflicts, sexual temptations, financial setbacks, occupational disappointments, and so on.
One of the most common experiences of human life is the experience of difficulty and problems. And no matter what some may tell you today, Christians are not exempt from having serious problems.
Notice in verse 2 that James carefully uses the words, “whenever you face trials.” He does not say, “if you face trials.” Whether you live one day or one century, you will experience what James calls “trials of many kinds” (1:2). Trials come in a myriad of different ways, but they always come.
James is not alone in pointing out that trials are the common reality in our lives. For example, King David says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19a, NKJV).
Job says that “man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).