Imagine you’re way out on a country road and you’ve pulled over and stopped your car for some reason. As you prepare to start the engine again, all you hear is a clicking sound – the battery is dead. There is no one else on the road, you are miles from the nearest gas station, and when you pull out your cell phone, you realize you don’t have service so far out of town. You look at the sun as it’s going down in the late afternoon.
How do you feel? What is your immediate reaction? Angry, fearful, frustrated, despairing, – kicking at the gravel and shouting “WHY God?” –all of those would be reasonable reactions.
Imagine some preacher comes up to you at that moment and says “Listen friend; count it all joy when you have all kinds of trouble in life.” Do you want to punch the guy, or are you willing to listen to him?
We’re starting a new study in the letter of James this Sunday, and we’ll be camping out there for the next few weeks. Most scholars believe that the James who wrote this epistle is the half-brother of Jesus. His writing style is very distinct from Paul’s – he’s much more of a straight forward thinker.
We’ll be reading chapter 1:1-4 where James tells the Jewish Christians who’ve been run out of Jerusalem and are now homeless and persecuted to count all their troubles as joy.
It sounds crazy when you say it out loud, but this is a very unconventional view concerning troubles in life, it is in harmony with most of New Testament thought. James indicates that troubles in life verify our faith, and our enduring faith produces wholeness in us. Think of the most troubling circumstances you’ve faced in the last year. Were you able to experience joy, that is, a sense of confidence and stability during it?
All of us want to feel whole, but few of us find it easy to submit our whole life to God. Think about it: do you consider life fulfilling only when circumstances are trouble free? If so, then we are seeking God in only PART of our lives. What of the troubling times – can we find God there? If we see a fulfilled life in both the good times and the bad, how would that affect our sense of wholeness?
It’s stuff to think about. Hope you can join us this Sunday!
3 thoughts on “An Unconventional View of Trouble”
Well, if I was alone (no screaming children in the car) and stuck there to enjoy a peaceful sunset I think I would just recline the seat and take in the beauty! If the kids were with me though I might cuss (under my breath)!! Ha, in all seriousness it would be a little scary to be in a situation like that. I think the first thing after the initial knee jerk reaction would be to pray and trust that the Lord would provide help one way or another. I believe that the more of these type of situations we are in and watch Jesus handle the easier they become the next time. We know He got us through before and can trust His goodness to come through again. I imagine that’s the whole point of these trials…to teach us trust and dependence on Him! When I think of the most troubling circumstance I faced last year, really it is the same one that I have faced for about 8 years. And now thanks to God’s grace and love for me I am able to experience joy and stability whether the situation changes or not. He has been here to comfort, lead, provide and help me daily through the circumstances and the circumstances keep me at His feet.
I think I would be afraid out there alone. I don’t know what I would make of some man coming up to me telling me he is a preacher and then telling me to be joyful. I’d wonder if he could be trusted, how did he get there and where is “his” car? I would probably lock myself in mine, alone, and then I would pray. I would pray a lot. I would invite the preacher to pray – outside my car. I would pray until I felt God’s spirit reminding me to “fear not.” There is a reason it appears 360 times in the Bible, for people like me. When I felt the Holy Spirit’s peace, I would relax and trust God, as I know that I could since He has always helped in times of trouble. I would realize that this is just one more of these times that I need to trust and lean on Him completely and maybe I forgot that and I need reminding. I could use this “experience” to find time to be alone with Him. Maybe He is trying to get my attention. Maybe He has missed me. Our time together would be joyful and I would feel anything but alone. I would remember I’m not alone and He will NEVER leave me and I am safe.
Life is a lesson. God is the God of second chances. There are lessons in trouble. Fail to learn the lesson and you will get a second chance….! 🙂