Summary: The question we are tackling this morning has been referred to as The Achilles Heel of Christianity – the question that often keeps people from becoming believers in Christ.
“Why do bad things Happen to Good People?”
The question we are tackling this morning is asked perhaps more than any other question about God. It has been referred to as The Achilles Heel of Christianity – the question that often keeps people from becoming believers in Christ. George Barna conducted a national survey in which he polled adults across America—he asked—if yo7u could ask God one question, what would it be? The top response was “why is there pain and suffering in the world …why do bad things happen to good people? C.S. Lewis in his book The Problem of Pain says the problem with pain is that pain requires attention. Pain insists on being attended to.
We ask these kinds of questions, bot for the purpose of some sort of intellectual debate---we ask questions like these because they affect all of us on a very personal level. These kinds of questions can either make us or break us… they can make us bitter or they can make us better. You make the decision.
So get an answer to this question we turn this morning to the Book of James. James is one of the most practical books in the NT. James is not
• A book of deep doctrine
• Not a defense of Christianity
• Not an explanation of how to be saved
James is a letter written to believers who we assume already knew the basics of the Christian faith and its intention is to drive home the importance of living out the truth. The main issue that prompted James to write is still a concern today--- if you say you believe then why do you live as though you don’t?
James begins by identifying himself simply as James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe this is James, the brother of Jesus. One of 4 sons born to Joseph and Mary. I grew up with 3 brothers and sister. If you have a large family, parents can often compare one child to another. Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister. So can you imagine growing up in a home where your brother was Jesus? How do you think it felt to literally have a perfect brother? James, why can’t you be more like Jesus??? Perhaps makes it easier to understand why James did not believe …. until after the resurrection. But not only did James then come to faith; he was also declared an apostle and the pastored the church in Jerusalem. And he was known for his profound prayer life.
So James is writing to a group of primarily Jewish believers who are undergoing severe hardship. They were hated—despised because they were Jews and they hated them as well. So James could pat them all on the back and comfort them but instead he challenges them. He says now put on your big boy pants --- because you’ve got to learn to trust God when things go bad. Grow up!
In many churches today the preaching is that the Christian life will always keep you healthy--- you will be wealthy --- and life will always be good. James would have laughed at those sermons – that kind of preaching would be a foreign concept to James. James would have laughed at the thought that becoming a believer would suddenly make all of your problems disappear and that you will live happily ever after. C.S. Lewis said that what everybody wants is ---we don’t want a Father in heaven – we want a grandfather in heaven. You know grandparents are the ones who make everything alright. “At the end of the day we can say that a good time was had by all.”
All of us face trials and while it is our tendency to ask how can I avoid these trials…. How can I make them go away? The real question should be how can I change the way I respond to hard times?
Well first of all it helps to realize that difficulties come into everyone’s life. V. 2 Consider it joy when you fall into trials. I want you to circle the word “when” in this verse. Highlight it. James is telling us that bad things are not optional --- they are inevitable. He does not say IF you encounter bad things; he says WHEN you encounter them. Interesting word James uses here. Poikilos. Means colored or varied. It is the word for our English term, polka dot. It is not ye idea that we are going to have many trials; it is the idea that we are going to have all kinds of them; varied kinds.
• Loss of a job
• broken relationship
• illness that lingers
• a wayward child
• depression that lingers