Wednesday Lesson: ‘Trials and Tribulations’ pt. 1

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A young newspaper reporter phoned in his first story into his editor about a dump truck that had rolled down a hill and smashed into a home. The editor was unimpressed and told the young reporter that he didn’t have time to run such a meaningless story. ‘I’m glad you’re taking this so calmly”, the young reporter said. “It was your house.”

Trials cannot be avoided. But trials can be to our advantage. The Bible promises us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28) God has a purpose for our trials and tonight I want to share with you:

  • The Reason for Trials
  • The Resource for Trials
  • The Reward of Trials

I. Reason for Trials – Spiritual Maturity

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

A. Gaining of Patience

Sometimes people pray, “Lord, give me more patience!” Yet the Lord doesn’t give patience. The Lord produces patience. Patience is not something that we can possess separate from our character. Patience, or the lack of it, is evidence our character. In order for us to have more patience, God has to change our character. How does He do that?

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

James speaks of ‘divers temptations.’ That means – ‘various kinds of trials and testings.’ James was writing to Jewish Christians who were being heavily persecuted. God was using persecution to produce more patience in their lives and often He uses various forms of trouble to do the same in our lives as well.

The question we might ask is – ‘How can trouble produce patience in my life?’ First we need to understand what patience is. Patience, as it is referred to in the Bible, is not an indifference to all that is going on around us. Patience is the ability to endure and remain steadfast, even during difficult circumstances. There are two words used in the New Testament to describe spiritual patience. There is one word that refers to someone who is able to remain under a heavy load. The other word refers to someone who is able to put up with a difficult person. Both of these qualities must be produced in us and the only way God can produce them is by taking us through difficult situations.

World class athletes spend an enormous amount of time conditioning. Not only do they work on developing their skills, they also work on developing their stamina. They develop stamina and strength through rigorous physical activity and a proper diet. God uses that same principle in developing the spiritual stamina and strength of His children.

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward  it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

From the Greek word translated as ‘exercised’ we get the English word ‘gymnasium.’ God puts us on the treadmill of tribulation in order to produce in us spiritual stamina. James tells us  – the trying of your faith worketh patience.’ God tests and tries our faith, often to the point of breaking, in order to make us strong.

Sometimes people say, “Don’t pray for patience. God will send you trouble!” Before you bail out, look ahead to vs. 12

James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

There is great reward for those who will let God develop in them this great attribute of patience.

B. Gain of Patience

James teaches us that there is an eternal gain in heaven for those who faithfully endure their earthly trials. God has awaiting them a crown of life. But there is also an immediate gain for those who are able to endure. There is the gain of contentment.

Let me give you a great example of this. Consider this testimony of a man who had tremendous spiritual stamina –

NIV Philippians 4:11 … I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

The contentment Paul experienced was the result of God developing in him – spiritual maturity.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

The word ‘perfect’, as it is used here, refers to something that has been finished and brought to completion. I like to call it Spiritual Maturity. It is the trying of our faith that produces spiritual maturity and thus makes us complete, entire, and lacking nothing.

II. Resource for Trials – Godly Wisdom

Nothing reveals our level of spiritual maturity more than trials. Trials prove our character, but trials can also produce our character.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

How can going through trials produce spiritual maturity and character in us? Do you remember our example of the Apostle Paul? Paul said, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” It was a process that Paul had to go through over and over again. God first stripped him of his strength through the trials, then God built him back up again by His grace. After a lifetime of going through this process, Paul was finally able to exclaim – I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

Our choir sings a great song by Andrea Crouch – “Soon and Very Soon.” Andrea Crouch is a black gospel singer who has written many great songs. Another one of his songs is entitled – ‘Through It All.’

I’ve had many tears and sorrows
I’ve had questions for tomorrow
There’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong

But in every situation
God gave blessed consolation
That my trials only come to make me strong

Through it all, through it all
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus
I’ve learned to trust in God

Through it all, through it all

I’ve learned to depend upon His Word

Trials alone cannot prefect us. In the midst of trials, we must find a strength that can carry us through. Andrea Crouch said, “I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.” James describes it as ‘God’s wisdom.’

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

God has wisdom that will be freely given. But in order to profit from God’s wisdom, it must be faithfully received.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

When God reveals the deep things to us, we have to receive them. We have to ‘depend upon His Word.’ To reject God’s revealed wisdom is to remain unstable in all our ways. The sea and the wind of our adversity will toss us about and we will receive no help from the Lord.

III. Reward of Trials – Heavenly Blessings

If God allows a storm in your life, it is ultimately to bless you. Such blessings are both immediate and eternal.

A. The Immediate Blessings

James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but  it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

1. Blessing of the low in that God will lift him up

2. Blessing of the high in that God will bring him low

It is easy to see how the low is blessed when he is lifted up, but how is the high blessed when he is brought low? The immediate loss of earthly riches might seem confusing at the moment. But the eventual loss of earthly riches is certain in eternity. Let me try to explain. Suppose God only prospered us with earthly riches and never caused us to need Him. Would that be a blessing or a curse? Paul writes –

1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after , they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

There is the immediate blessing of knowing that during trials, God is doing something eternal in your life. There is also the eternal blessing that awaits us in glory.

B. The Eternal Blessings

James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

There are two types of crowns mentioned in scripture: a diadem which is the crown of royalty and a stephanos which is the crown of someone who has won the victory. The crown James refers to here is a stephanos which is the crown of the victor.

Though our trials are not pleasant while they are happening, they can bring us great reward. There is the immediate reward of a developing spiritual maturity and there is the eternal reward of knowing that through Christ, we were able to do all things!


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