In Times of Trouble
James 5:13-19 Princeton Christian Church 21 February 2021
James gives us the solution to trouble and several other things that we encounter in life.
1- Are you in trouble? Pray 2- Are you happy? Sing 3- Are you sick? Call (make a phone call)
Trouble. Can life be lived without any trouble? No, it’s an impossibility.
Mark Twain said, “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”
I think all parents have some trouble with their kids, but I doubt seriously that they enjoy it. Children are great, but with them comes trouble. If nothing else, it’s troublesome to raise children to adulthood. It’s a lot of trouble to diaper them, discipline them, teach them, train them, provide for them, etc.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “If you could kick the person in the pants, who is responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.” Isn’t this the truth? We are often our own worst enemies. We cause ourselves more trouble than anyone else.
Have you ever considered this? We also incur trouble by following Christ.
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In this world you will have trouble. What kind of trouble? Jesus was talking to His disciples so He was talking about discipleship troubles. Trouble because they were following Him. Because the evil one exists in this world he will cause trouble in your life as you follow Jesus. Jesus is a peacemaker, but the devil is a troublemaker. The devil wants to cause you trouble in order to make you fall away from Christ.
In His parable of the sower, Jesus says in Matthew 13:20-21: “The one on whose seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”
Trouble because of the Word. What’s this? If we stick to the truth of God’s Word and try to live by God’s Word we will experience some trouble in this world. As a whole, the world is opposed to the Word of God. If you say, “The Bible says...” someone will always dispute you or argue with you.
John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” We may be troubled in this world but trusting God and Christ is the cure!
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
James gives us the solution to trouble and several other things that we encounter in life.
1- Are you in trouble? Pray
2- Are you happy? Sing
3- Are you sick? Call
Let’s look at these individually – Pray, Sing, Call
1. 5:13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.
Abraham Lincoln: “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” I’m pretty sure that Lincoln had his share of trouble and haven’t we all? And what do we do when we have trouble? Some people rant and rave, cuss and carry on, but hopefully, we do the best thing, and the first thing and that’s pray!
A little boy once prayer this prayer: "Dear God, please take care of my daddy and my mommy and my sister and my brother and my doggy and me. Oh, please take care of yourself, God. If anything happens to you, we're gonna be in a big mess."
Satchel Paige, pitcher who last played for the KC A’s and passed away in 1982: “Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines.”
Or as Will Rogers said: “The trouble with our praying is we just do it as a means of last resort.”
We must be men and women of prayer ALL the time, and not just when we get into trouble. You may have heard a song recorded by country singer Carrie Underwood which says: “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” We may have always expressed that at times of trouble. But, Jesus needs to be our driver every day.
E. M. Bounds wrote: “Trouble and prayer are closely related to one another. Prayer is of great value to trouble. Trouble often drives men to God in prayer, while prayer is but the voice of men in trouble. There is great value in prayer in the time of trouble. Prayer often delivers out of trouble, and still oftener gives strength to bear trouble; prayer ministers comfort in trouble, and begets patience in the midst of trouble. Wise is he in the day of trouble who knows his true source of strength and who fails not to pray.”
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
George Muller, who lived from 1805-1898, and was a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, and cared for 10,024 orphans in his life wrote: “I spent hours in prayer every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down. I pray when I wake up. The answers are always coming. Thousands of times have my prayers been answered. When I am persuaded that a thing is right, I go on praying until the answer comes. I never give up. I have been praying every day for 52 years for two men, sons of a friend of my youth. They are not converted yet, but they will be. How can it be otherwise when we have the unchanging promises of God!”
II Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
God is our comforter when we face trouble in life and we must be quick to go to Him in prayer.
Two men rested after climbing to the top of a high mountain. The first man turned to the second climber and said, “What brings you way up here? This is a tough climb.” The man replied, “Well, it’s like this. All my troubles and heartaches are down in that little valley, and when I’m down there, they seem pretty big. But up here they seem pretty small...”
And this is what prayer does for us. When we are “up there” in prayer our troubles “down here” seem much smaller. And in fact, they can become much smaller as we stay “up there” in prayer!
2. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.
A man met another man on the street and said, “Good morning.” The man replied, “I have never had a bad morning. I have never been unfortunate and I am never unhappy.” The first man said, “Well, I wish you would explain that to me.”
The second said, “I will. I have never had a bad morning, for every morning I praise God. If it rains or snows, whether the weather is right or stormy, I am still thankful to God. I can never be unfortunate because nothing happens but is according to the will of God. And His will is always good, in whatever He does or permits to be done. I can never be unhappy while resigned to do the will of God and as long as His peace rules in my heart.”
Pretty good answer, wouldn’t you say? How can we not be happy, knowing that the Lord is in control of all the universe and even our own lives -- especially, as we yield to Him?
Psalm 5:11: “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”
Psalm 16:8-9 “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.”
How can we not rejoice or be happy in the Lord? And if we are, what must we do? SING PRAISE!
Ephesians 5:15-20 “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Colossians 3:16-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Do you see what all these words of encouragement mean? We are to live a life of praise to God! And we do this by singing to Him, by praying to Him, and by constantly thanking Him for every good and perfect gift. If you are happy in the Lord and you should be, then sing praise to Him!
3. Is any among you sick? - Call
14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
Maybe you heard about the wife who said to her husband who was sick and in bed, “It’s a sympathy card from your secretary TO ME.”
When you get sick, what do you do? Most of the time you don’t want to see anyone. I guess it would depend on what kind of sickness we’re talking about. If you were going to have surgery in the hospital would you call anyone? If you are like most people you would probably only want your family members to be with you.
But, what does James say? 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
This sounds like serious business. Actually, it sounds like someone who is seriously ill and perhaps on their death bed. And this may be the case in this scripture. No matter what, it’s nice when someone visits you in the hospital if you’ve been sick or had surgery and they have prayer with you, whether it’s the preacher, elder or whoever. Of course, in these times, even family cannot visit their sick family member in the hospital or nursing home due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
It’s comforting to know that someone cares and even more comforting when someone asks God’s blessing on you in your presence. It’s very calming and reassuring. And if you are called on to pray for someone who is sick, how do you pray for them? Here is the scripture that reminds me how to pray for the sick.
Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
How do we pray for sick people? We thank God for His sympathy and ask that He have mercy on them and give them grace for healing and recovery. In extreme illness, we might ask the elders to anoint someone with oil and pray over them. Why? The oil symbolizes the outpouring of God’s Spirit or His blessing on them. There is nothing magical or miraculous in the oil. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit working in the prayer of the elder (preacher, or another believer).
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
Prayer for the sick person which is offered in faith is important. It’s a matter of asking God and trusting Him to do something. The Lord is one who raises up people from their illness even if the doctor and medication are involved.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
Could it be that sin has something to do with illnesses? In some cases, yes. Our behaviors and dangerous practices can cause illness. A lifestyle of alcohol or drug abuse. Reckless driving. Gluttony. And many others. These are obviously going to contribute to illnesses.
This text doesn’t mean that we need to broadcast to the whole world or even the whole church every sin we have ever committed. Most of us wouldn’t dare do this in the first place. The text is probably talking about having faith in someone in whom you can confide your weaknesses and sins and pray for one another. Prayer is power and effective for the person who is in Christ. We must never stop praying for one another. Elijah believed in prayer. Why shouldn’t we?