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April 18, 1999

Why Me, Lord? (Part Two)

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. JAMES 1:2-3
Some days, toil and trouble come in spoonfuls. Other days, they come in a fleet of dump trucks. In the first few verses of the Epistle of James, the apostle describes certain aspects of trials that are essential to understanding and handling life’s difficult days.
First, trials are inevitable. The word whenever signals the certain predictability of hard days and tough times. The question isn’t if hard days and tough times will come; it’s when.
Second, trials come in many kinds. To describe the various hardships that life delivers, James uses a word that translates as “diverse” or “many-kinded.” The Greek word, in fact, is the same one used to describe the coat Jacob gave to his son Joseph, the Old Testament dreamer. Picture Joseph’s colorful coat. It was diverse, “many- kinded,” multicolored. So, too, are the trials of life. Some are big, and some are small. Some last an hour, and some last a lifetime. Some are chronic, and some are acute. Some pertain to the past, and some apply to the future. There are financial trials, relational trials, and health-related trials. Trials come in many kinds.
Third, trials are purposeful The Old Testament details the story of the wandering people of Israel. Deuteronomy 8:2-3 recounts the story. What appeared to be a plight of aimless misdirection that seemingly made no sense is instead described in these verses as an intentional forty-year desert journey directed by God to build and fortify the character of the Israelites.
James tells us how to respond to trials so our character may likewise be built up and fortified: We are to approach each hardship with joy. James is not speaking here of dogged determination, an attitude that says, I am going to make it through this. Nor does he mean the hypocrisy of smiling on the outside and cursing on the inside. The joy he speaks of results from the subtle awareness that we are not alone. God’s sovereign eye sees our pain, and if we simply acknowledge His tender care throughout our trials, He will bring peace and purpose to our most difficult days.
How do you respond when trials come into your life?

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