Summary: This sermon explores why we can "count it joy" when we have difficulties.

When Things Go Wrong

James 1:2-4

Introduction: Have you ever heard someone say, “If you were just a better Christian, then you wouldn’t have all these troubles.” Well, if you haven’t discovered it already, I am here to tell you that being a Christian does not make you immune to problems and difficulties in life. As Job said, (and he ought to know) “For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) How do you deal with problems and misfortunes that come into your life? When life gives you a lemon, do you just sit there with a sour look on your face, or do you make lemonade?

There was a small boy at school one day when it seemed everything went wrong. At first recess he skinned his knee. At lunch he fell and busted his lip. Then during third recess he suffered a broken arm. On the way home from the hospital, his father noticed the little boy clutching something in his hand. His father asked him what he had. The boy replied, “Boy this is my lucky day. I found a quarter on the playground.”

Last Sunday, Mahase talked about crisis situations that could mean the difference between life and death. This week we want to talk about those day to day situations that are more like Chinese water torture that wear us down one drop at a time. James in 1:2-4, talks to us about those times, “When you encounter various trials.” Notice that James uses the word, “when” and not “if.” Difficulties WILL come to us. As much as we would like, there is simply no avoiding problems. This should come as no surprise to us for Jesus warned us his apostles, and us, in John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation.” These trials can come from many sources in many different forms. This morning we just want to look at three.

I. The root of trials.

A. Circumstances of life.

Like our little boy on the playground, sometimes it seems that life gangs up on us and one thing after another goes wrong. The loss of a job, illness or injury, marital problems, a random act of violence, loss of a loved one, and so on. Sometimes it seems we have more of these kinds of problems than our fair share. Some years ago, (longer than I care to admit) I heard a song called “Life Gets Teejus Don’t It.” It was written by Carson Robison but the most popular recording of it was by Walter Brennan. A few of the lines go . . .

Well, the cow’s gone dry and the hens won’t lay

And my well dried up last Saturday

My troubles keep pilin’ up day by day

And now I’m gettin’ dandruff.

Roof’s a-leakin’ and the chimney leans,

An’ there’s a hole in the seat of my old blue jeans

Now I’ve et the last of the pork an’ beans,

Just can’t depend on nothin’

Well, it’s debts and taxes and pains and woes

Aches and miseries and that’s how it goes

And now I’m getting a cold in my nose,

Life gets tasteless, don’t it.

Sometimes it just seems that “Murphy’s Law” is working overtime. You know the one that says, “If anything can go wrong it will.” The second source of trouble that we want to examine this morning is temptation.

B. Temptation.

Satan often makes strong efforts to lead us away from God. Sometimes we feel like an alcoholic locked up by ourselves in a liquor store. Temptation seems to come when we least expect it and are least prepared to deal with it. When did the devil tempt Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11)? After he had spent 40 days in the wilderness, not before. The devil is out there all the time, “like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (I Pet. 5:8).” But he is sure to attack us where and when we are the most vulnerable. So many of our troubles could be attacks from the devil tempting us to sin.

C. Sin

Sometimes our troubles are brought on by our own actions. This is when we have been tempted and then have succumbed to the temptation. We have involved ourselves in activities that have damaged our health, our bank account, our relationship with our family and friends, or our relationship with God.

One of my favorite moves is “A Christmas Story” which is the story centered around 9 year old Ralphie who wants a Red Rider B. B. Gun for Christmas. There is a segment that takes place on the playground of the school. In the segment, one of the children “triple dogged dares” another child to stick his tongue to the flag pole. When he does, his tongue sticks instantly to the pole. About that time the school bell rings and all the children go inside, leaving this poor helpless child outside with his tongue stuck to the pole. Many times we are like that little boy. We have sinned and now we are stuck with the consequences.

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