Summary: This is the 1st sermon in the series "Momma Says...".
Series: Momma Says… (James)[#1]
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU WILL ONLY MAKE YOU STRONGER
For those of you who know my mother, you know where I get my “gift for gab”. My mom loves to talk and she always has a saying for everything. You have probably heard and said many of the same sayings. On this New Year’s Day we are going to begin a new series, “Momma Says…”
This morning, “Momma says… ‘What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.’”
God uses many different kinds of trials in our lives in order to mold us, wake us up, and mature us. These sources for trial can be compared to various things in life, for example, a hammer, a file, or a furnace.
The hammer is a useful tool; but the nail, if it had feelings and intelligence, could present another side of the story. The nail knows the hammer only as an opponent, a brutal, merciless enemy who lives to pound it into submission, to beat it down out of sight and clinch it into place. That is the nail’s view of the hammer, and it is accurate, except for one thing: The nail forgets that both it and the hammer are servants of the same workman. If the nail will remember that the workman holds the hammer; then all resentment towards the hammer will disappear. The carpenter decides whose head will be beaten next and what hammer will be used in the beating. That is his sovereign right. When the nail has surrendered to the will of the workman and has gotten a little glimpse of his plans for its future it will yield to the hammer without complaint.
The file is more painful still, for its job is to bite into the soft metal, scraping and eating away the edges until it has shaped the metal to its will. Yet the file has, in truth, no real will in the matter, but serves another master, as the metal also does. It is the master and not the file that decides how much will be eaten away, what shape the metal will take, and how long the painful filing will continue. Let the metal accept the will of the master and it will not try to dictate when or how it will be filed.
As for the furnace it is the worst of all. Ruthless and savage, it leaps at every combustible thing that enters it and never relaxes its fury till it has reduced it all to shapeless ashes. All that refuses to burn is melted to a mass of helpless matter, without will or purpose of its own. When everything is melted that will melt and all is burned that will burn, then and not till then the furnace calms down and rests from its destructive fury.
Suffering is no fun. Sometimes God uses a hammer—at least it seems that way—and at other times he uses a painful file. He even uses a furnace, though perhaps not as often, being ever mindful that we are made of dust. Suffering is gut wrenching and drawn out at times, but the one thing that you must know, Christian, is that God is with you through the whole ordeal. He has focused all his energies on you and will never leave your side, though for a moment it may seem as if He’s abandoned your heart and fled from your thoughts.
Why do we have to go through times of trial and suffering?
1.Sometimes we go through suffering because we have made bad decisions. Remember, God tells us we will reap what we have sown. There are consequences to sin.
2.Sometimes we go through suffering so that God can purify, strengthen, and grow us.
What do we do when we are going through a trial? Suffering is no fun; but James doesn’t tell us to consider it fun! He tells us to “consider it pure joy.” Going to Disney Land is fun. Suffering daily with illness, losing a business, or grief through any form of loss…well, that’s not fun! But such trials can be processed with joy whether they are a hammer, file, or furnace!
Yet you ask, “How in the world can a person consider the trials which have surrounded them, like pack of hungry wolves, all joy? Psychiatrists say that such an attitude involves gross denial, plain and simple. The experts claim that such people should go on medication or be locked up before they explode. But again, James doesn’t say, “Deny that you’re in a real tough battle right now.” He doesn’t say, “Deaden the pain though binging and purging, through more movies, through other forms of escapism.” He actually tells us to consider our trials, that is, he encourages us to give careful thought to what’s going on in our lives and he tells us to do so in a certain way, because of what will happen in and through us as a result.