Can you imagine what it was like for the Children of Israel at the shores of the Red Sea?  God had promised them that they were the nation from whom the savior of the world would be born and was leading them to special land, He had prepared just for them.  Yet, God had just led them into a death trap.  Try to imagine 2.5 million people crammed into this little patch of land.  The only way out was this mountain pass through which the entire Egyptian army bearing down on them.  That had to be terrifying.  Who can blame the Children of Israel for wondering if God had changed His mind about them, or if He was at all trustworthy?  

Or, put yourself with the disciples into a boat that was too small for the size of the waves they were fighting?  Again, it had to be terrifying, especially since there was a superstition then that just before you died, you’d see the angel of death coming for you.  And that’s what the disciples thought Jesus was when they first saw Him walking on the water.

Our text this morning was written to people, who weren’t going through anything as dramatic as what the Children of Israel or the disciples had, but it was bad enough.  It was the start of the persecutions.  They were in danger of losing their jobs or having their homes and businesses confiscated just for being a Christian.  They might also be imprisoned, beaten, or even martyred.  It had to be hard living like that, because you wouldn’t just be nervous for yourself.  You’d never know in the morning if that night you’d still have your spouse or all your children.  In addition, these people were often up against a brick wall trying to put food on the table, or trying to find medical help for a sick child.  

So, how do your stresses compare?  And, how do you handle it, when you have serious problems, and no way out?  James was the younger, half-brother of Jesus.  He urges us to not give up on God, but instead: Consider Trials a Complete Joy. 1.  Praise God for the blessings He is working through our trials.  2.  Ask Him for wisdom, if we still don’t understand.  

    1.  Praise God for the blessings He is working through our trials.
Our text reads: Consider it complete joy, my brothers, whenever you fall into various kinds of trials. – James 1:2   That phrase, “fall into… trials” is a good description of what happens.  Just like night falls, and then darkness is all around, and we can’t change that.  We put the light on, on our cell phone, but darkness is still all around us.  So, because of sin, trials are all around us, and we can’t change that.  All we can do is try to avoid them, but sometimes we can’t, because that trial is what God planned for us.  For example, in the case of the Children of Israel, God Himself led them to that narrow patch of land in front of the Red Sea.  And God Himself hardened Pharaoh’s heart to chase after them, as his punishment for repeatedly rejecting God’s Word.  

Similarly, did that storm come from when the disciples were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus was back on the shore praying?  Was it just a coincidence?  It could be, but I don’t think so.  I think God allowed that storm in answer to Jesus’ prayers for them, in order to ultimately strengthen their faith.  
Or, just one more example, what was the source of the persecutions the people in our text were facing?  It was of Satan, who was out to make these people so miserable, that they would decide that the Gospel isn’t worth it.  

So, where are your trials coming from?  God sent them?  God allowed them?  Satan or evil people caused them and God allow it?  Or, maybe some of our trials are just plain the result of stupid things we’ve done.  Either way, if there’s a trial you can’t avoid or get out of, James would say, “Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.”

Here’s why.  Our text reads: Because you know that the testing of your faith produces patient endurance. – James 1:3   There is nothing more precious to us than our faith.  Through faith, which God Himself gives us, we possess the holiness and righteousness of Christ, so that we, sinners, have everlasting life to look forward to.  Also, through faith we have hope in this life.  For example, when I’m going through a particularly challenging time, Satan is right there whispering in my ear, that God is angry with me, because my faith isn’t what it should be, because I don’t trust enough, or I’m not joyful enough.  But here’s some light that sends Satan fleeing.  God says: There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1   So, on the one hand you got this trial or that trial.  On the other hand, God declares there is no condemnation for us.  Let’s not fuss over things we can’t change, and with the Children of Israel let’s keep quiet and watch what God does!  Or, with Peter, when Jesus calls on us to walk on water through wind and wave, let’s not look at the wind and wave.  Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and start walking, because He’s not going to let us drown!  

On the contrary, that trial is turning our attention away from earthly things, or it’s waking us up to some bad habits we need to change, and then it’s compelling us to cry out with Peter, “Lord, save me!”  But again, why?  Why does God put us through so many things by what He allows or what He sends?  Well, what kind of faith is stronger?  The faith of a person, who’s enjoyed all the good things of life, and after all, our Heavenly Father does love blessing us?  Or, the faith of person, who has experienced God’s mighty deliverance from a no-way-out, impossible situation?  The answer is obvious.  

But there are many blessings and joys to having an experienced faith.  We do feel closer to God, not that He’s been far away.  Also, the way God works things out for us often is just plain exciting.  I mean, walking between two walls of water, or walking on water?  If you do that, you got something to talk to your grandchildren about.  On the other hand, as cool as God’s deliverances are, don’t wish for trials so we can experience the deliverance.  That’s just plain wrong, and it’s testing God.  Rather what we should wish for and pray for is to keep on loving our family and the people around us – no matter what!

There’s one more blessing to our trials, I’d like to mention.  Mary and I have gone through some big ones in our 40 years together.  And after a person does, he gets the attitude, “God got me through that, He’ll get me through this too!”  As a result, he’ll keep plugging along.  No, he’ll do more than that.  When a new trial comes along, he’s able to say and mean it: This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm    
And let patient endurance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
5If any one of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives it to all without reservation and without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But let him ask in faith, without doubting, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7In fact, that person should not expect that he will receive anything from the Lord. 8He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
12Blessed is the man who endures a trial patiently, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God promised to those who love him.

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