Friday, September 21, 2012

Turning Trials into Triumphs - James 1:2-11

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
If you know a verse in James off the top of your head, chances are that it's verse 2. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials...

How often have we heard it or quoted it with closed eyes so others couldn't see the eye roll or the deep pain that went with it? Or, maybe we simply wanted to throw our hands up and say “How?! How can this be joy?” I've done both. Sometimes at the same time.

Thank goodness James tells us how we can turn our trials into triumphs!

Let's dig into some important words first...

Click to view larger. From BibleGateway.com
Consider is a financial term that means “to evaluate.” The phrases Chalk it up to... Mark it down as... fit well here. Think of our lives having two columns: Pros and Cons. When trials come, mark them down in the Pro column. Consider them a plus and not a negative.
When we face the trials of life, we must evaluate them in the light of what God is doing for us. ~Warren Wiersbe

All joy = utter joy. Complete, overflowing joy. Trials are to be occasions of overflowing joy.

Trials = peirasmos in Greek
“When God is the agent, peirasmos (trials) are for the purpose of proving someone, never for the purpose of causing him to fall. If it is the devil who tempts, then it is for the purpose of causing one to fall.” WordStudy Dictionary meaning of trials.

Just like extreme heat is used to refine gold and silver by putting them through the fire, we are refined by trials. Trials prove the quality or worth of someone or something through adversity.

When we find ourselves in trials, we are to respond not with anger or disappointment, but with utter joy.

Endurance is not a single act of fortitude, it's an active steadfastness. Staying power, constancy, and a determination under adversity. It's colored with the idea of hope, which animates and enriches the other qualities. We need to let constancy go to its fullest extent so we become mature and complete, lacking nothing.

Endurance is something that must be learned through experience. Just like you don't train for a marathon by reading or studying about it, you must go through difficulties, trust and obey God so that your endurance will grow.

Perfect is mature, complete, goal, or rightful purpose. This is a key term for James. It is the fully developed character of stable righteousness. When it's used of character, it implies that God is a part of whatever process is involved in the formation of character.


So how does all that help us turn trials into triumphs? 

James tells us.
Count.. Count it all joy
Outlook determines outcome, and attitude determines action. ~Warren Wiersbe
To turn trials into triumphs, the first thing to do is choose to see the trial through the lens of what God is doing for us through the trial. He's growing us and giving us an opportunity to learn and mature. Knowing that helps us accept things better, which affects our attitude, and our attitudes determine our actions.

Know... Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance
Testing works for us, not against us. Trials can produce patience, endurance and the ability to keep going when things are tough.

Let... Let endurance have its perfect result
If we do not let Him, God cannot build our character. We must surrender to Him so He can accomplish His work in us. If we don't surrender to Him, we become even more immature.

Ask... Ask of God who gives to all generously
When we're going through trials...troubles...the first thing we often ask for is an escape hatch. We want out of the fire. But that's not what James says to ask for. He says to ask for wisdom.

Wisdom? In a trial? In tough times?
You bet!
With God's wisdom we will be able to see more of His perspective of things, which will help us understand it, which will help us endure as we submit to His will (like a good bond-servant whose will is consumed in his master's will).
Why ask for wisdom instead of deliverance, grace or strength? Because we need wisdom so we won't waste the opportunities God is giving us to mature, and to help us understand how to use the circumstances for our good and God's glory.
Wisdom is not knowledge. Knowledge is information. Wisdom is knowing what to do with that information. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge.

James tells us that when we ask, we're to ask in faith, without doubting, and he compares the doubting believer to the waves—up one minute and down the next. What a graphic that is! A little tiny canoe on the huge ocean of life, bobbing up and down when we don't need to. Faith anchors us to The Rock—no more bobbing around.

A believer's circumstances aren't an indication of the depth of their spiritual walk. Regardless of who we are and our social or financial standing in life, trials can knock us down. Money and social standing don't get us through trials. It's our position in Christ and who He is that gets us through. Money can disappear in a flash but our spiritual riches cannot, nor can they wither or fade.
It's not your material resources that take you through the testing of life. It's your spiritual resources.


Our world seeks joy but doesn't allow us to find it. James says joy is in the presence of God and the will of God. We need to forget what the world tells us about joy and happiness and realize it is found in a sensitivity to and humility before God, and to service to others.

Trials force us to the place where we ask God for wisdom, and His wisdom allows us to endure the trial until we are complete.



Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Digging Deeper
  • Compare James 1:2 with Luke 10:30.
  • How does Psalm 66:10-12 fit with James 1:2-4?
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 deals with wisdom. How does it tie in with James 1:5? Who ya gonna call?
  • What is the effect doubt has on faith? Matthew 14:22-33


Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

Let's Chat

  •  What's the toughest thing for you--Counting it joy, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, letting endurance have its perfect result, or asking God for wisdom when in a trial?
  • Which is the easiest?
  • How does knowing this help?
  • What is one thing you can do this weekend that will help you when the next trial comes around?

12 comments:

  1. This is so, SO good, Peejers. The hardest part for me is letting endurance have its result - I don't want to surrender :::r::: My optimism makes the first part easier - though not easy ;)

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    1. Surrendering is so hard, isn't it? I usually want to jump out of the fire just as quick as possible, and that doesn't work.

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  2. Asking God for wisdom doesn't always come easy for me. I desire His wisdom. BUT I'm a problem solver and I tend to look at it through my own eyes and try to figure. I'm trying to learn to go to Him first, and you've encouraged and empowered me to do just that. Seek Him first!! Great post!

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    1. Oh Rita, you're so right! I hadn't thought about that with problem solvers (and I should have, LoL, we have some in our household). Hmmmm. Food for thought there for me! =] Thanks! =]

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  3. The wisdom thing is what's on my mind now, as evident by my j.o.e. post. I love that verse, especially that He gives liberally and without reproach...

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    1. Isn't that so amazing, Jennifer?? He gives so liberally, without reproach...so why do I wait so long to ask Him for wisdom?

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  4. Patty, as I read your study, most especially, your admonition to "consider" or "evaluate" our trials in light of God's truth, I couldn't help but think of 2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

    So many false thoughts and perceptions trickle in when I'm going through a tough time. In fact, if I'm not careful, my thoughts can spiral into a deep pit of negativity or despair. But that is when I must 1) Stop the negative, false thinking and 2) replace it with God's truth. The false thinking can be anything from, "God doesn't love me," to "Things will never change." But God's Word says God loves me with an eternal love and He is making all things new and is working all things for my good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My negative thoughts are usually "why bother?" and it's like a poison in me. =[

      Our thoughts are so key. By taking our thoughts captive, as you said, we can choose to count the trials as joy. Out with the bad and in with God's truth.

      Thanks so much for pointing out that connection with taking our thoughts captive. It really shows the HOW so well!! =]

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  5. This leaped off the page for me: "Endurance is not a single act of fortitude, it's an active steadfastness. Staying power, constancy, and a determination under adversity."

    SUCH a powerful and informative post, Peej.

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    Replies
    1. La, that really jumped out at me when I was studying. I mulled that over for days. Too often I think passivity or even a plodding, pessimistic acceptance is endurance, but it's NOT! It's determination under adversity and active steadfastness.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      =]

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  6. I'm feeling really humbled and convicted for wanting to take a proverbial and raging bull by the horns right now and just fix everything for people closest to me. They, on the other hand, must have peeked at your study :) Too many quotable points to copy and paste, but rest assured I'll be rethinking my attitude today. Wonderful study. I'm off to Part 2. Thanks, Patty!

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    1. It's sooooo easy to feel that way, Nancy. Especially when it's your family and things seem so very senseless. As moms we want to fix things for our kids, even when we know those are the things that will grow them the best.

      It's so hard. Praying for that whole situation and all involved!!
      Hugs!!!

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