02 The Challenge of Trials

James 1v1-4, 12

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him…
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. (ESV)

The Stoic philosophers had a saying: ‘The impediment (difficulty) facilitates the way’.
When you see obstacles you know you’re on the Way.
When you go around it, you leave the Way.
You must either go over or through the obstacles to remain on the Way.

  1. The Reality of Trials
    The Lord Jesus said that we will have trials in this world.
    Possible trials that James refers to are persecution, opposition, physical illness, mental and emotional struggles, financial and material hardship, relationship problems and conflict, temptation to sin and abandon the faith, moral and ethical dilemmas and doubts or questions about God.

  2. The Response to Trials
    The Lord prescribes the response we should have, namely to ‘count it all joy’. In order to have this joy, we must run to Christ. We find joy in the fellowship of believers where we share each other’s burdens. You need to be in Christ’s body, the New Testament ark to be safe against the storm. Our response must be joy instead of getting anxious – “be anxious for nothing but through prayer and supplication make your requests be known to God”.
    a. Thank (pray) right, and
    b. Think right.

  3. The Reward of Trials
    Look at the progression of the rewards:
    a. It gives you a tested faith.
       (i) Knowledge.
      (ii) Assent (belief).
      (iii) Trust.
    b. Resulting in a tough faith that produces steadfastness – firm dependable and unswerving.
    c. The effects of steadfastness are:
       (i) Flawlessness (perfect, cleaned up)
      (ii) Fulfilment (God completes the work that He begun in you).
     (iii) Fullness (lacking in nothing).
    d. Receiving the crown of Life (v 12) for steadfastness through trials – a promise from God for those who love Him.