Summary: When adversity comes your way, how do you handle it? This message tells you how.
James 1:1-12 "When Trouble Comes"
By Pastor Mark Hiehle
Some time ago, I heard Pastor Tony Evans reminisce about growing up and having his favorite shows interrupted by a test. When I heard him say that, I thought of my time during and after college when I worked in radio as both an announcer and in sales. As I would come into the studio, I would sometimes see on the log that I was to run a Test of the Emergency Broadcast System. I was not to announce the test in advance but simply interrupt the regular broadcast and conduct the test. When the test took place, I was to broadcast an annoying test signal that was to last for 30 to 60 seconds. Tests are like that aren’t they? You don’t know they’re coming. You just have to endure them until they are over. There was another kind of test that I did not enjoy as I was growing up and that was when the teacher would announce that we were going to have a "pop" quiz. I liked multiple choice "guess" tests and true or false tests, but I dreaded essay tests because you had to really know the material in order to pass. As James begins his letter to the church, he states that God is like a school teacher who wants to train his children so that when the tests come, they will be able to pass the tests. But the wonderful thing about all of God’s tests is that that they are "open book tests." All of the tests that God allows into our lives are so that our faith can be tested and we can have the opportunity to put scripture into practice and pass the test.
In James 1:2.,God says through James that trials come to us in many different forms. In fact, the word trial can also be translated as trouble. Trouble comes to us from every side but we should not think that this is strange because Jesus told us that we should expect trouble. In John 16:33 Jesus said "In this world you will have trouble.." Also in 1 Cor. 7:28 we are told that, "those who marry will face many troubles in this life." Did I just hear someone say amen?
Notice that James does not say "if" but "when" you face trials of many kinds. Trouble is one of the constants in life. As long as we are alive, we will have trouble. Family trouble, work place trouble, personal trouble, financial trouble... the list is endless. We do not live in a perfect world and life is not fair. So the question is, how do we handle trouble when it comes? The first thing God tells us through James is to "Consider it all joy."
We are consider it all joy as we go through the trial. Does that mean we are to be happy about the pain of the problem? No. Being happy is a feeling and James says nothing about our feelings when he says we are to consider the trial with joy. I like the saying I once heard that says, "Happiness is based upon the happenings in my life but joy comes from the Lord." The reason I like that saying so much is because when we look at trials, there is usually nothing to be happy about. But, we can be joyful in the midst of the trial because we know God is also in the midst of the trouble with us. In other words, verse 3 tells us that God allowed the trial into our life to test our faith. Our faith is tested so that we will become mature and no longer a spiritual infant. God wants us to grow up and move from being spiritual babies to become spiritual adults. The way God grows us is to teach us through His Word and then test us with a trial so that we can apply what we were taught. If we successfully put into practice what we learned from His Word, then we pass the test and we grow to the next level of spiritual maturity.
At the elementary school where our kids have attended, they each have had to take timed math tests on their math facts. Each week they had to answer correctly 30 questions in 3 minutes. If they were unable, they had to take the test again the next day until they could pass. For those that passed, they would go on to the next level of questions. For some of us here today, we are still taking the same tests because we have never passed. God is patiently waiting for us to apply His Word to our trial so that we can pass the test and move on in our spiritual development with Him. God wants us to pass the test!