Message “ The Mystery of Trials“ Aug. 22, 2021
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
As long as we are alive, there is probably no one who has not had to face trials and tribulation.
Many people have been searching for the significance of trials and how to deal with them.
Today, I can't tell you everything about the Bible’s views, but I would like to learn from the letter of James.
First of all, before I get into the main topic, I would like to give a general explanation about the letter of James. James, the author of this letter, was the younger brother of Jesus Christ. He was a half-brother born of his mother, Mary. James was not one of Jesus' 12 disciples, but like Paul and Barnabas, he became an apostle after Christ's resurrection.
When the Apostle Peter began to establish a new church in Jerusalem, James was the leader of that church and served wonderfully for about 20 years. The people who came to this church were mainly Jews who had become believers in Christ, so they faced a lot of persecution and had many problems with poverty that led to starvation.
James seems to have been very trustworthy among the people. He did not teach them in a theological way, but rather stepped into real life and told his readers how they should live and apply their faith.
Let's take a look at each verse.
Verse 2 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”.
Is it possible to rejoice in trials? That’s a very surprising command, isn't it? Even if we think of it as a metaphor or a paradox, it still doesn't make sense. How do you understand it?
It is clear that it doesn't mean to rejoice in the trial itself.
James seems to be leading people to the truth of how they can be transformed by joy.
Verse 3 says, " because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Oh, so it's patience. Well, that's true. When a trial comes, we have to endure it first, whether we like it or not.
But does this solve the problem? Are we supposed to rejoice in patience?
How can patience be connected to joy? You might argue.
Let's move on to verse 4.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I think James is emphasizing that patience is a way for people to grow and to be mature, and that it is the foundation for the resultant transformation into joy.
And this isn't just a matter of maturing through one's endurance, but of faith making the endurance possible. That is, we grow stronger in faith in God through trials, and in the process, God’s power makes our endurance possible.
James says throughout this letter, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (v.22) James was a practitioner.
So, it is noticeable that he is giving specific instructions.
For example, if you lack wisdom, ask God. Don't doubt it. Respect and help children and widows in need. He also tells us not to be stained by the evil of the world.
James was a leader who knew the reality of situations. He must have been facing tense persecution every day, and he must have been taking care of the poor.
I don't think he would have just accepted the ordeal in silence and become enlightened and satisfied with himself.
He would not have been the kind of person who said, "Life is about endurance.”
After writing this letter, James died a martyr's death by stoning.
But his life did not end in vain!
Sometimes we become bystanders.
Don't you think there are times when we don't give a hand, instead of empathizing and wondering if there is anything we can do to help others?
It may be because we are trying to protect ourselves and our family.
There are also times when we give a solution based on a manual without thinking deeply about the circumstances surrounding the person, which can sometimes cause further hurt. I've also seen a lot of indifference lately, and people saying, "It's your responsibility.”
We are in a time when the number of children is declining and the population is aging, and old couples and single people are losing touch with their neighbors.
If people take more interest, show compassion and wisdom, and reach out to each other, our trials may become smaller and more surmountable.
I'd like to share a story that I have experienced. It was a simple problem that I can’t even call a trial.
Someone's dog often came into my yard and defecated because my house does not have a gate or a hedge surrounding it.
Some people may have criticized me for neglecting to protect myself in this regard.
I was harassed by the frequent challenges caused by the dog, even when I put up signs.
At last, I was so sad and angry that I took pictures and sent emails to my friends to tell them that I was in trouble.
At the same time, I reported it to the health department and the town office.
I was very comforted by all the encouragement and empathy I received from my friends who had taken this to heart.
We sometimes cannot solve our problems, whether they are big or small, by our own wisdom. So, whenever I am in trouble, I will always pray to God for help first. Sometimes help comes directly from God, or in other cases, I've experienced many times when God sends a helper. As I mentioned in my example, I can understand why trials become joy. We do not endure them quietly and alone.
< 1 Corinthians 10:13>
Believing in the promises of this Word of God, and trusting in God who measures all things and makes the best of them, we can help each other and overcome trials together.
Let's experience many times when such trials turn into joy.