Triumphing When Troubled…
“If He governs all, then nothing but good can befall those to whom He would do good… He will so govern all things that we shall reap only good from all that befalls us.”
— B. B. Warfield
Be patient when you suffer, for your trials will produce a quality you must have—perseverance.
If you lack insight into your suffering, ask God for it.
You will get a crown of life after your trials are over.
Don’t blame God for your being attracted to evil. God is the source of everything good.
Be sure you don’t merely hear God’s Word. Do it!
Overview of the Epistle of James:
Josephus says James was killed in 62, so the Letter must predate that.
Since the Epistle says nothing of the decisions on the law made at the Jerusalem Council (A.D. 48 or 49) over which meeting James presided (Acts 15), a date between A.D. 45 and 48 is widely accepted.
While this may be the first book of the NT to be written, and thus has a strongly Jewish flavor, its teachings must not be relegated to another age.
They are applicable to us today, and very much needed.
To achieve his goal, James draws heavily on the teachings of the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
Read James 1:2-4:
2-4 Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.
(1:2-4) We can’t really know the strength of our character until we see how we react under pressure.
We may find that being kind to others is easier when everything is going well, but will we still be kind when others treat us unfairly?
God wants to develop us into complete human beings, not simply insulate us from all pain.
Enduring through trials generates a whole person—seasoned, experienced, well developed, and fully trained.
It gives us the life skills to see our blind spots and anticipate mistakes before we make them.
Instead of complaining about our struggles, we should see them as opportunities for growth.
Ask God for wisdom to help you solve your problems or to give you the strength to endure them.
Then be patient. God will not leave you alone with your problems; He will stay close and help you grow.
Thank Him for walking beside you in rough times.
(vv. 2-3) James doesn’t say if trouble comes your way but when it does.
He assumes that we will have troubles and that we can profit from them.
We should not pretend to be happy when we face pain, but we can have a positive outlook (“consider it an opportunity for great joy”) because troubles can strengthen and develop our character.
James tells us to regard our hardships as times of learning and growth.
They build our endurance.
(For other passages dealing with endurance, also called patience and steadfastness, see Romans 2:7; 5:3-5; 8:24-25; 2 Corinthians 6:3-7; 2 Peter 1:2-9.)
(v. 2) Joy springs from a deep sense of well-being that can coexist with the full range of human emotions—sorrow, happiness, anger, pain.
Joy born out of our troubles is more of an attitude or a decision than a feeling. We can choose to live with joy while not denying our normal emotions.
God’s faithfulness teaches us to respond to all of life’s circumstances with joy. It helps us be grateful in all circumstances and to delight in the goodness of God.
Joy brings contentment when we realize that “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
There is a silver lining to every crisis and trial we face in life and the Bible teaches us that God enters into every situation and that he works it for our good (Rom 8:28).
Learning to deal with uncomfortable and unpleasant situations in our personal life – in our work, ministry or wherever is where the rubber meets the road for all of us.
Getting Sick for the Glory of God
Dottie and Ed Powell came to a small village in Burkina Faso, West Africa, as a part of their orientation to African culture.
They were beginning translation and literacy work among largely animistic people.
They lived in a village of fifty-five people, all members of an extended family.
They were to remain there for a limited time as they learned the rigors of living at the tip of the Sahara Desert.
Two in the village could speak French.
The rest only knew the local tongue.
Daily temperatures reached above 100 degrees.
The Powells kept the door of their house open for light and air. Livestock traffic and a stream of curious Africans poured through their living room.
Several days after arrival in the village, Dottie became ill with dysentery.
The heat and the difficulty of adjusting to native food sapped her energy.
Tears of anger and self-pity flowed frequently. Then one day, she asked the Lord in desperation,
“Lord, what can I do?”
Back came the answer, “Be sick.”
Dottie Powell felt relief in accepting that task because she judged that she could handle it.
She was already sick, and she determined that she would do a fabulous job of performing that role.
At the time she did not realize the excruciating events she would face in her sickness.
The day after determining that she would honor God in her sickness, she and her husband received a fax from America telling of trouble for her married daughter.
Doctors could no longer pick up the heartbeat of her unborn child.
When villagers learned of the concern the Powells had for their daughter, one man borrowed a motorbike, loaded Dottie Powell on it, sickness and all, and carried her to the nearest telephone.
Dottie was relieved to talk to her daughter in a hospital delivery room and to learn that mother and child were doing well.
Back home in the village, Dottie Powell complained to God,
“Lord, I want to go home. I want to see my daughter and hold my grandchild. I can’t stay here.”
God’s love responded to her during this outburst, and she stayed. She made the commitment, “Yes, Lord. I’ll be sick for you.”
The chief elder of the village grew concerned at Dottie’s inability to retain her food.
He called for two Christian men to come from an evangelical church nearby and pray for her.
The elder was an animist. People in his village had actively persecuted the little church.
The men came and prayed. She recovered.
The Powells requested permission of the village elder to take the two French-speaking villagers with them to the church.
Surprisingly, he agreed. That day the two villagers heard the gospel.
One of them became a believer.
After the Powells completed their orientation time in the village, they still maintained contact with their friends.
Letters frequently come from the two French-speaking villagers to them.
One letter told of the conversion of the brother of the village elder.
Dottie Powell learned that God wanted her to be faithful to Him in her sickness.
He did not require that she be strong or effective.
She was to live in complete faithfulness.
He would compensate for her weakness.
She learned afresh through her weakness. She also understood more richly God’s provision.
She learned that God only wanted her commitment.
She was reminded that God Himself had assumed a nature of weakness for the purpose of reaching the world with His saving message (Phil. 2:6-11).
She learned how to be true even though tested and tried.
She understood the truth that the testing of your faith develops perseverance (Jas. 1:3).
From Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…
James knew that Christians scattered all over the world would face challenges to their faith.
If they were to remain faithful, their beliefs needed to be not only intellectual, but also very practical.
He urged his readers to put their faith into action.
God allows tough situations in our lives in order to refine us and bring us closer to Him.
We should approach these times with a right attitude and seek wisdom from God.
When a potter bakes a pot, he checks its solidity by pulling it out of the oven and thumping it.
If it “sings” it’s ready. If it “thuds,” it’s placed back in the oven.
The character of a person is also checked by thumping.
Been thumped lately?
Late-night phone calls. Grouchy teacher. Grumpy moms. Burnt meals. Flat tires.
“You’ve got to be kidding” deadlines.
Those are thumps. Thumps are those irritating inconveniences that trigger the worst in us.
They catch us off guard. Flat footed.
They aren’t big enough to be crises, but if you get enough of them, watch out!
Traffic jams. Long lines. Empty mailboxes. Dirty clothes on the floor . . .
Thump. Thump. Thump.
How do I respond? Do I sing? Or do I thud?
Jesus said that out of the nature of the heart a man speaks (Luke 6:45).
There’s nothing like a good thump to reveal the nature of a heart.
The true character of a person is seen not in momentary heroics, but in the thump-packed humdrum of day-to-day living.
(From On the Anvil by Max Lucado)
So how do you respond when you are “thumped” by people at work, school, family, or people at the grocery store?
Your initial reaction during these times reflects who you are.
Whatever responses need to change? Make the changes today.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Saturday, July 9, 2022
“Consider it pure joy , whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete.”
— James 1:2-4
I recall my first encounter with seasickness.
I was on a two-day fishing trip and became so ill that I couldn’t eat, drink, or even sleep.
My entire trip was spent either groaning in misery or praying for mercy.
I vowed to never go out to sea again! Much later, I found the courage to give it another go and discovered I was slowly adjusting to the constant motion.
In time I became resistant to seasickness.
The process, although painful at first, produced endurance in me.
The apostle James wrote about perseverance.
He addressed Christians who were suffering as a result of being followers of Christ.
He even referenced the doubts of life, comparing them to waves of the sea whose wind blows us and tosses us about.
His encouragement to them and to us is not to let the struggle of suffering for Christ discourage us.
Rather, we must focus on what God is doing in us.
The Lord promises to build perseverance in us.
When we walk by faith, we show the world what true faith is and give testimony to the power of salvation through Jesus.
When facing hardship, focus your heart and mind on what the Lord is doing in you, rather than what is happening to you.
Come join the Adventure!