JOY IN TRIALS
PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH JAMES 1:2-4 JULY 26, 2020
With God’s help, we can know joy even through trials.
Isn’t it good to be together as the family of God? I think most of us may not be truly happy or excited about the current situation which is making such drastic changes in our daily lives.
We don’t typically sit around eagerly waiting for trials to come our way. But none of us have had an easy life with no trial or temptations.
Maybe you’ve had periods of time when you wanted to leave your relationship with God because of the difficulties which impact your life. In those times we may wonder where God was while we weathered the storm of life.
Today we are looking at the letter from James. Now, James deals with several different themes, but always emphasis on the practical aspects of the Christian life. James addresses subjects such as trials and temptations, practicing pure religion, faith and works, our use of our tongues, wisdom, and humility, patience and prayer.
James wants us to know how important our faithfulness to God is, even when other options are set before us. He teaches us how we can be steadfast and committed – how to live with integrity and devotion even in the midst of trials.
The Bible has much to say about staying faithful over time, no matter what comes, with God’s help.
None of us really look forward to facing trials. Worldly wisdom would tell us to avoid trials whatever the cost might be. However, today, we will examine three things that will help us to face the trials we are hit with in a way that will help us to see something positive, which will help to strengthen our faith.
With God’s help we can be steadfast, staying the course no matter what.
Turn to James 1; we will be reading verses 2-4.
The ability to be devoted to standing firm requires…
1. The proper attitude in the midst of your trials.
Consider it all joy?? Really?? That is how James tells us to handle trials. Face them and rejoice about it.
That certainly is not the advice we would receive from the world. The world tells us there is no value in suffering, so; therefore, pain is to be avoided at all costs. We are told that only pleasure can bring happiness.
As Christians, we need to understand that suffering through various trials is a part of life. We have all seen things that make us shake our heads; we have all probably experienced something that could cause us to wonder if there is a God out there who cares for me. Now, one thing that verse two does not tell us to do is to look for trouble or seek out trials so we can go through them.
But note that in verse 2 James says WHEN you encounter trials. There is no IF in that verse. Interestingly, James commands us to consider it great joy when the trials come to us.
James calls all Christians to stand face to face with the trials that come to us.
So, how do you make it through a difficult time in life?
Our attitude is vital in our ability to stand in the face of trials and remain devoted to standing firm in our faith.
When the difficult times come, time spent crying about it, or being mad at God will probably not allow me to be able to stand firm in my faith. The correct attitude can keep us in the right frame of mind. However, the wrong attitude can contribute to our failure and ruin.
That is why James tells us our attitude is to be one of pure joy (genuine rejoicing). This is joy during trials. The joy is based on confidence in the outcome of the trial.
What is joy?
Joy is a deep sense of well-being that we can possess in the middle of trials because we know who we serve.
Joy gives us the ability to trust God, and, at the same time, embrace the sorrows, tears, laughter, anger, and pain. We do have to guard against thinking that the outcome has to be the way we want it, or else God failed us.
Joy is more of a decision than a feeling. It is not intense happiness, although choosing joy sometimes produces happiness. Joy is a particularly Christian response to life since it depends on faith in God’s sovereignty.
Now, let’s look at James 1:3
The ability to being devoted to standing firm requires…
2. Understanding the purpose of your trials.
In order to maintain the proper attitude when trials come we must understand the purpose of our trials.
That purpose or reason is found in verse 3. We must understand what trials are capable of producing.
James tells us that we know that the test of our faith produces endurance.
We face trials so that our faith can be strengthened and so that our faith can have the endurance to run the race until the end.
Trials put our faith to the test to see if our faith is genuine, to see if our faith will endure.
God does not cause the trials, but trials are a part of the life we live on earth. God can use these trials to see if we will stand firm or stay faithful.
In James’ mind there is no vital, alive and solid Christianity without faithfulness. Joy comes because we know the trials are tests of faith that we are eager to pass!
Peter also has much to say about this faithfulness in the face of trials. 1 Peter 1:7 (CSB)
7 so that the proven character of your faith being more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Passing the tests of faith produce endurance. We see many of the saints of the Old Testament who faced trials, and those trials made their faith stronger. Think of Abraham, Job, Joseph.
Passing these tests leads to perseverance. PERSEVERANCE implies steadfastness, fortitude, constancy, persistent determination, strong consistency, and staying power. It is one thing to be strong; it is another thing to be strong and have the strength to endure.
When we are able to understand that our trials do have a purpose, it can drive us to be joyful because we know we will be stronger for getting through the trials.
When we understand what we will accomplish when we are devoted to standing firm during our trials, we too will be able to do so with joy.
Let’s look at verse 4.
The ability to being devoted to standing firm requires…
Embracing the results of standing firm in the midst of your trials.
We have to envision the goal to be able to be devoted to standing firm. We are not to endure just to make it through the trial. We are to make it so our endurance will carry us across the finish line! This endurance is to help make us complete in Christ; it helps our maturity in Christ!
To be able to stay devoted to standing firm, we must embrace the results that will come as a result of standing firm.
For us be able to endure trials, we have to embrace the fact that these trials will help our faith to grow strong. We have to know that what we may be going through has a purpose.
Enduring trials produces joy because those tests shape believers into the image of Christ. In that image, we lack nothing.
The “perfect and complete” James speaks of in verse 4 is not just the result of our own efforts. Instead, it is brought by God and is the end of steadfast obedience. Here James echoes Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, who urged his hearers, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Even in struggles and sufferings, we can remain faithful and joyful, for we know that God will be faithful to us through it all.
By God’s grace, when our lives and our faith go through extreme pressure and fire, his faithfulness will create in our souls something “perfect and complete”—steadfastness and joy (James 1:2–4).