Finding Joy in the Face of Trials

Stefan Nitzschke November 14, 2021 James 1:1-12
Outline

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing

2. God entrusts you with everything you have

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given; He wants you to increase it

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today

3 steps toward joy in challenging days

I. He Is Making Us Perfect/Mature (v. 3-4)

James 1:2-4 - Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

A. By using various trials

B. By using testing to produce endurance

James 1:3 - …knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…

C. Endurance leads to maturity

James 1:4 - And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

II. He Gives Us Wisdom (v. 5-8)

James 1:5 - But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Matthew 6:27 - …Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

A. Generously

Matthew 6:34 - Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

B. To those who ask in faith

James 1:6-8 - But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Job 9:32-33 - [God] is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together…

Hebrews 12:2 - …who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…

III. He Offers Us a Great Future Reward (9-12)

1 Corinthians 9:24, 26 - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? … Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air…

A. Better than the pleasures of this life

James 1:9-11- Now the brother or sister of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; but the rich person is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so also the rich person, in the midst of his pursuits, will die out.

B. For all who persevere under trial

James 1:12 - Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Matthew 25:21 - His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant... Enter into the joy of your master.”

Today is going to be comprised of a series of fill-in-the-blanks

*recurring nightmare of being in school

So here we go, let’s see if you can fill-in-the-blank…

Like a good neighbor… State Farm is there

Nationwide is… On your side

The sun will come out… Tomorrow

Okay – how about some phrases..

You can’t judge a book by its… Cover

Cleanliness is next to… Godliness

Actions speak louder than… Words

God just wants me to be… (say it how it’s said) Happy

Are all of these true statements?

Does God really just want me to be happy?

Will the sun come out tomorrow?

Is Nationwide really on my side?

This morning we are going to answer all of these questions, and more…

Or more realistically, we will be continuing our yearly stewardship emphasis and only look into what God wants from us..

But we aren’t done with the fill-in-the-blank quiz just yet – we have the…

Four Factors of Stewardship which we find from a study of Luke 16:1-12.

1. God owns everything, you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given; He wants you to increase it.

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today.

The specific focus we are centering our emphasis around is…

Stewarding Challenging Times.

So far, we have heard Dr. Svensson challenge us to Honor God through Suffering as seen in the Book of Job

Last week, Pastor Viars walked us through Hebrews 12 to draw out Our Father’s Loving Discipline

This week, we will be in James chapter 1 (pg. 177)

From our text we will work towards…

Stewarding Challenging Times by Finding Joy in the Face of Trials.

Does God just want you to be happy?

Let’s read together to find out if this is the case, and if so, how this comes about…

James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

**READ JAMES 1:1-12

Again, we are talking about Stewarding Challenging Times by Finding Joy in the face of Trials.

Our passage in James challenges us to take 3 Steps toward Joy in Challenging Days

James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

Embed short video of Emmanuel (No sound needed)]

The first step that strikes us is how

I. He is making us Perfect/Mature (v. 2-4)

It’s worth reading those first few verses once more…

James 1:2-4 - Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

So let’s work the logic backwards, shall we?

God wants us to be PERFECT/COMPLETE according to this passage – do you see that in this passage? (*so that)

1 Tim 4 says our ultimate striving ought to be GODLINESS (*like God)

1 Thess 4 tells us God’s will for the Christian: our SANCITICATION (*like Christ)

What do you notice about all of these bottom-line statements of purpose? What does God’s goal for the Christian?

Or another way of saying it… God just wants me to be… WHAT?

PERFECT/COMPLETE

GODLY

SANCTIFIED

Getting back to our passage, how is this accomplished – what’s the vehicle He uses to bring us there?

Money?

Ease?

Comfort?

No – He grows us towards completion…

A) By using various trials

Why does God allow the righteous to suffer? is, indeed, one of the most perplexing and difficult questions that God’s people can ask. James gives no complete answer. But implicit in what James says is a conviction that the suffering of believers is always under the providential control of a God who wants only the best for his people. – Douglas Moo, The Letter of James, PNTC P. 52-53

Luke 22:28-32 “You are the ones who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to sift you men like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail; and you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

…This just doesn’t seem to have the same jingle to it that Nationwide and State Farm does, right?

(*sung to “Nationwide” theme) “Godliness through bitter trials”

Was that stuck in anyone’s head this morning?

What‘s the first thing we tend to want when the Lord sovereignly drops a trial in our life?

We want OUT!

What should we want?

Completion… maturity… godliness… sanctification

“The Lord has given me this trial because He wants to grow me closer to Jesus”

Brothers and sisters – what is the result of viewing trials through this lens?

JOY!

God wants His children to be like Him, and He uses trials to get us there

The man or woman who has this view in the midst of a trial will see what God is doing, and will be able to count it ALL JOY!

Does God just want me to be happy?

Happiness is certainly a result of what God wants of us – we are often surprised how we get there…

B) By using testing to produce endurance

It’s important to distinguish counting the trial all joy vs. counting the results of the trial all joy

For instance, do we cheer for car accidents?

Do we cheer for sickness?

Do we cheer for people to be sinned against?

Do we cheer for natural disasters?

Then what are we considering all joy?

James 1:3 – knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance

The trial brings about the testing of our faith

The testing of our faith brings about endurance

So we don’t look at sin or brokenness and force ourselves to rejoice in those things

That would lead to all sort of wacky results…

Let me pause here and speak to those who are currently facing a trial

How do you practically fight for joy in the midst of it? What does our passage encourage us to look at?

Look specifically at the endurance He is building in you

Let’s say you’ve been sinned against in an egregious way, and you’ve spent years dealing with the continual result of someone else’s wickedness

You’ve taken all the right and necessary steps on your end, you constantly bring it before the Lord, you want to handle it well – it’s just incredibly hard and immensely exhausting…

What’s the specific endurance He’s building in you?

1) How about the endurance of longsuffering?

2) How about the endurance of tested faith?

3) Or the endurance of and endearing testimony?

If you focus on Jesus and these incredible gifts that He is giving you through this trial, isn’t it easier to count it ALL JOY?

Maybe your trial is relational – what endurance is He building in you (*patience, kind, loving, etc.)

Perhaps your trial is physical or financial – what endurance is He building in you? (*faithful, eternally minded, focused (on the right thing))

Why look to endurance? Because…

C) Endurance leads to maturity

Our passage goes on to say…

James 1:4 - And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Rom 5:3-4 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope

“We are not to pretend trials and grief do not hurt us; it is natural and normal that they do, and it would be a denial of our humanity to think that we should be immune to the pains of hardship in our lives and the lives of others…James is saying that it is what God can accomplish through suffering that is good, not the suffering itself. Suffering is an opportunity to gain the most valuable thing on earth.” - Sam Allberry, James For You, p. 15

While the specific type of endurance may vary from trial-to-trial or person-to-person, there’s one common goal that the Lord is building in each Christian through the trials…

God just wants me to be… COMPLETE

He wants me to mature in Christlikeness

But do you ever struggle to see this in the midst of a trial?

*boxing in college (hard + built endurance)

But in my first fight, I find myself agreeing with an unlikely source…

When asked by a reporter if he was worried about the game plan of his opponent in an upcoming fight, Mike Tyson iconically replied with:

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” – Mike Tyson

What’s Mr. Tyson getting at here?

There’s something about a clean smack to the jaw that can bring things a bit out of focus – catch my drift?

Have you found this to be true in the area of trials?

For all of us who aren’t in a serious trial right now, we are (with good intention) plotting out all the ways we intend to count it ALL JOY when we face trials of various kinds! (*looking to endurance, looking to completion)

…what do we do when we step into the ring and the trial lands a nasty uppercut that leaves us fighting to stay conscious?

In the middle of the fight, cry out to God, because even in the fog of trial…

II. He gives us wisdom (v. 5-8)

This is the second step towards JOY in the midst of trials

By the way – do you know how much freedom there is in this step?

Do you get to pick the next trial you’ll step into the ring with?

How do you plan for a fight when you don’t know the opponent? (*pause)

Some of the most anxious people I know are those who plan exhaustively for an opponent they aren’t guaranteed to face…

“what if I can’t make the payment?”

“what if I get sick?”

“what if they end up hating me?”

“what if this?”

“what if that?”

…We don’t always know what trial is going to walk up and sock us in the mouth, but we do have a promise to cling to when it happens…

James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

What benefit do we gain from worrying about a trial before we step into the ring with it?

Jesus says it this way in Matthew 6:

Matthew 6:27 – “…who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

Worrying always promises to be productive, but has never, ever, ever, ever, delivered…

In fact, it saps us of ALL JOY

I don’t know a single person who has been an absolute nervous wreck and held onto their joy [PIC OF PAINED SMILE]

And this is what you look like when you try

It’s it incredibly freeing to trust God for future trials, knowing that He will give wisdom in the midst of it

And He doesn’t just sprinkle a bit of wisdom over our trials – our passage says that He gives…

A) Generously

When we recently went through the Book of James together as a church family, we chided James for copying off of his half-brother (who is that? (Jesus))

And does anyone remember what portion of Scripture James seems to be hocking all his material out of? (Matt 5-7 – “the Sermon on the Mount”)

We already referenced a bit of it earlier, but Jesus closes his treatise of worry in Matt 6 with this statement:

Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (ESV)

What does today promise in terms of generosity? TROUBLE!

What does Christ generously promise to give all who ask? WISDOM

If He promises to generously give wisdom for the troubles we face today, why should we worry about tomorrow?

That’s why James specifies how we are to ask – this generous wisdom is given…

B) To those who ask in faith

James reminds us that the one who asks for wisdom…

James 1:6-8 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Each of us struggles with doubt

Dr. Svensson told us a few weeks ago about Job – how did Job respond when trials first hit him in the gut?

He seemed to hold fast

But Dr. Svensson highlighted an important point – much of the rest of the book of Job – spanning 42 chapters – recounts quite a bit of wavering in the midst of his ordeal

Though God addresses his wavering and pride appropriately, He graciously reinstates him in the end

Why is this?

Because there is only ONE who perfectly remained faithful, and He is the One Job cried out for in chapter 9:

Job 9:32-33 – [God] is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together… (NIV)

And speaking of JOY in the midst of trials, we learned last week that Jesus…

Hebrews 12:2 – who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…

Even in our doubts, we can appeal to the One who never doubted – even when facing the greatest trial

*Gospel? (///////)

So have joy in the midst of trial, because this is how God is building endurance and making us like Him

Have joy in the midst of trial, because God will give us wisdom generously WHEN WE NEED IT

And the final step towards joy that we see in the passage is that…

III. He offers us a great future reward (9-12)

I can tell you from experience – the middle part of a boxing match is not a whole lot of fun…

You are wishing you had spent MORE time building endurance, as you gasp for air

Meanwhile, the punches don’t seem to stop

Let me give you another fill-in-the-blank pop quiz:

“I just want to throw in the… Towel”

Where does that expression come from? (*boxing coaches to symbolize ending the match)

If all you are focused on is the discomfort of the fight, you will always be tempted to “throw in the towel” when you’re in the middle of a trial

Pastor Viars talked about this last week when he brought up a common trend among pastors (*things get hard after 5 years so they move)

It can look like throwing in the towel on a relationship that gets hard – I just want out

It can look like running to alcohol when that memory comes up again – I just want escape

It can even look like considering suicide when severe trials come into your life – I just want it all to end

But what should the boxer keep in mind in the middle of the fight?

1 Corinthians 9:24, 26 – Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? … Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air…

The boxer ought to be focused on the title belt that he has trained so hard to attain

The fleeting displeasures of the match – no matter how intense they are for the time – are worth the prize at the end

So it is with trials – if we focus solely on the trial, we will continually be tempted to throw in the towel for the temporary ease it may promise to provide

Instead, we are to focus on the prize that is able to deliver on promises…

A) Better than the pleasures of this life

James 1:9-11 Now the brother or sister of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; but the rich person is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so also the rich person, in the midst of his pursuits, will die out.

No matter how lofty the promise – it will certainly wither in the end

Throwing in the towel will never provide the JOY that it may promise

Everything from the rich man seeking to shield himself from all trial and suffering through his riches, to the poor man seeking to surrender into his own self-pity

Admittedly, this is rather confusing language that James is using here

What point is he trying to make with all of this? Has he gotten off of the topic of trials?

No.

The final point he is making in our passage is this:

Even in the heat of the fight, even in the exhaustion of the trial, real and lasting JOY is promised…

B) For all who persevere under trial

A wonderful promise is given to us to close out our time:

James 1:12 - Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Final fill-in-the-blank question:

Well done.. Good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master

Matthew 25:21 – His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant... Enter into the joy of your master.

When we focus on the endurance and maturity that God is building in us through the trial, we can have JOY

When we trust that He will give us wisdom when we ask for it, we can forsake WORRY and have JOY

And when we focus on the final prize in the midst of trial, we can have JOY

Brothers and sisters, does God just want us to be happy?

The shocking answer is this:

Even in the middle of the fight, we CAN be – if we are focused on Him

Authors

Stefan Nitzschke

Roles

Pastor of College Ministries - Faith Church

Bio

B.S. - Management Information Systems, Iowa State University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary

Stefan has been serving on the pastoral team at Faith Church since 2016. He and his wife have a passion for discipleship and evangelism. They are the blessed parents of four carefree boys and one sweet girl. Stefan is certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and is a board member of Faith’s Community Development Corporation.