How to Face Trials

Highlights in James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  23:39
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It’s not a question of if we will face trials, but when. We live in a fallen world, with the darkness of sin present everywhere. It is no surprise, then, that those who follow Jesus Christ will experience hardships, opposition, trials of every kind. Jesus Himself warned His disciples that in this world they would have tribulation. What sets Christians apart is not that we do not have problems but in the way we face them,
James 1:2–4 NIV84
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, 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, not lacking anything.
The author of this letter is James, the half brother of the Lord, who became the recognized leader in the Jerusalem church. Flavius Josephus, first-century historian, records that James was martyred in A.D. 62.
He is writing to believers who are experiencing various trials.

Testing our faith

It is true that there are times when our faith is tested. God allows these tests to come not to defeat us but so that we can overcome them.
The word for testing is the same word used for the process by which silver or gold is refined by fire. These trials help to purify our faith, strengthening it.
Testing also shows whether our faith is genuine or not.
1 Peter 1:6–7 NIV84
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Genuine faith trusts that God is in control, that there is a purpose for whatever trials we face, and that God will get us through them if we trust.

Develops perseverance

In the same way that resistance training strengthens our muscles and gives us physical endurance, facing trials strengthens our faith and gives us spiritual endurance if we have the right attitude about them. In fact, the only way to develop endurance is to face and overcome the difficulties that come our way.

Leads to maturity and completeness

Trials strengthen us and help to purify us, taking away things in our lives that would hold us back, or that may become false idols in our lives. The end result is that we become mature and complete. To become mature and complete is to become more like Christ. Even He needed to face trials of every kind in order to fulfill God’s will. In the same way they lead us to maturity and completeness, making us fit for service in God’s kingdom.

Consider it pure joy

James is telling his readers, and us, how to think about the trials that come our way. He says to have joy, not for the trials but in them. He is not saying that suffering is good, but that even these experiences can be used by God for our good.
He uses the imperative tense, so this is not just a suggestion but a command.
This is not the way we usually consider trials. All too often trials prompt groanings and complaints.
Having joy does not mean being happy. It is less of a feeling than it is an attitude, the way we think about something. Our prevailing attitudes to life colour our whole personality and experience of life.
We will be better able to think rightly about trials if we see them as opportunities for demonstrating our faith, for growing in maturity. Trials should not be seen as a punishment, a curse, or a calamity but something that must prompt rejoicing.
They indicate God considers us worthy of suffering for Christ – the apostles were flogged.
Acts 5:41 NIV84
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
They indicate that we are being faithful disciples of Jesus, for as He said, if He was persecuted His followers would be also.
Arthur Matthews, a missionary in China, wrote home sharing some of the difficulties he and his family were enduring: ‘These trials of faith are to give us patience, for patience can only be worked as faith goes into the Pressure Chamber. To pull out because the pressure is laid on, and to start fretting would be to lose all the good He has in it for us.’

How do we develop this attitude?

Consider the purpose – maturity
Romans 5:3–4 NIV84
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Consider the promises
1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV84
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
James 1:12 NIV84
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Consider the person – Jesus
Hebrews 12:3–4 NIV84
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Several years ago the Presbyterian pastor Lloyd John Ogilvie underwent the worst year of his life. His wife had undergone five major surgeries, plus radiation and chemotherapy, several of his staff members had departed, large problems loomed, and discouragement assaulted his feelings. But he wrote,
The greatest discovery that I have made in the midst of all the difficulties is that I can have joy when I can’t feel like it—artesian joy. When I had every reason to feel beaten, I felt joy. In spite of everything, [God] gave me the conviction of being loved and the certainty that nothing could separate me from him. It was not happiness, gush, or jolliness but a constant flow of the Spirit through me. At no time did he give me the easy confidence that everything would work out as I wanted it on my timetable, but that he was in charge and would give me and my family enough courage for each day: grace. Joy is always the result of that.
We have all experienced various trials, and we will again. We can let them defeat us or by the grace of God we can overcome them. If we persevere in faith we will find that we will be the better for it. The victory begins with our minds, the way we think about the problems and our attitude toward them.
Let us obey James’ instruction, being not just hearers of the word but doers also.
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