Triumphant Trials

Bible Book: James  1 : 1-12
Subject: Trials; Troubles; Faith; Growth, Christian
Series: James - Believing and Behaving - Minnix
[The sermon is one in a series of 10 messages from the Book of James entitled: Believing and Behaving.]

Triumphant Trials

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

James 1:1-12

James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."

Today we turn to the James 1:1-12 and begin a series of sermons from the Book of James. We begin where James begins, with a look at the trials we face as Christians in this world. Here we discover words of encouragement and instruction regarding the manner of life we should live in the light of these earthly trials. Is there anyone who does not face trials and troubles? Is a Christian immune to earthly woes and worries? No, a thousand times no! We have our share of tribulations and troubles.

Jesus plainly told us we would face trials in this world. In John 16:33 we read, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Paul wrote, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellowput it this way, “Into each life some rain must fall.”

The real question is not whether Christian will have to face trials and troubles in life, but how we deal with these trials when they come. James tells us what our attitude and action is to be in the face of earthly testing.

I. The Beginning of Our Trials

All of us who are saved are said to be in the family of God. You are never ready to face the troubles of this life till you have Christ in your heart. But, once you know Him you can be sure He has a purpose and a path through the hardships.

Let's begin by looking at one word ...

A. Note the word "Face"

We are told to consider it pure joy when we “face” trails of many kinds. It is important here to discover the most important word in this part of our text. It is the word "consider”. The word consider does not refer to trials, rather it refers to how we are to face the trials. It is not a joy to go through trials, but we are to "consider" it a joy that we can face our trials in God's will and purpose. We must begin the journey of any trial or tribulation with the confidence that we can face it with God's help. We are not to fear trials, but face them. It may well be that in facing a trial we are actually discovering a door to greater ministry, grander joy and a more glorious relationship with Christ.

Now, look at another word in our text ...

B. Note the word "Faith"

The second importnat word in our text is the word “faith.” We know by faith that the testing we are experiencing will result in patience and perseverance. The word "know" in this test refers to a continual learning of God's ways in dealing with us through life. Note that James sees the Christian life as very practical. It does not have to do with just heart knowledge or even simple head knowledge but with practical application. How desperately we need to come back to this today. We cannot be Christians in word only; we must be believers in deeds and actions – in other words, in real life! This especially applies to our willingness to believe God when everything around us seems contrary to what we expect.

Now, let's consider another idea in this text ...

C. Note the word "Finish"

James tells us that perseverance will "finish" with a flurry as God brings us to maturity. Facing your trials with confident faith will result in a fortitude that brings about a mature finish. Do you want to be everything God meant for you to be? Then you must be willing to face your trials properly, believe God with a strong faith and endure till He grows you up to a mature and complete believer.

The fact is, you can face your trials God's way and mature into a Christian who truly walks with Jesus or you can face them the wrong way and never grow up, living your life in defeat.

Patience is a hard lesson to learn. Maybe you heard about the man who learned patience at the doctor's office. The doctor finally came into the examination room and asked the patient, “How old are you?" The frustrated patient replied, “How old am I now, or when I first entered the waiting room?"

We will never discover all God means for us to know, to be and to do unless we can face our trials in faith and come to the point of Christian maturity. It isn't a pleasant journey, but the arrival is glorious.

II. The Bearing of Our Trials

We see something about bearing our trials and tribulations in James 1:5-11.

You might say, “Preacher, everything you say is true but just how am I to have this faith and fortitude to face my trials properly?” James tells us that as well.

A. Prayer is Prompted

He almost mockingly states, “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” The “if” in this passage is humorous to say the least. Surely we all know that we lack wisdom when it comes to understanding the trials and tribulations of life. How do you face your trials? In prayer! Sincere prayer! Sadly, God must send some trials to get us on our knees. When all is well, we avoid prayer. When the bottom falls out, we fall on our knees. Prayer is the way to remain close to the Lord in every situation. We should be praying in good times and bad times. But, surely, when everything nailed down is coming loose we ought to pray fervently and faithfully.

B. Provision is Promised

Our prayer must be based upon the goodness of God to answer us. He promises that He will guide us through our trials, if we only ask Him without wavering. We must have simple faith, a sure faith, and a steadfast faith.

God has promised that He will be with us, that He will guide us and that He will see us through the valley of the shadow of death. Understanding His promises and believing that He will keep them is a sure way to overcome a downcast spirit in a time of trouble.

C. Purpose is Promoted

Trails teach the poor to glory in the riches we have in Christ and the rich to understand the wealth of this world is not the answer to happiness. The poor are brought to an appreciation of totally abandonment of early things for the love of Christ. The rich are shown just how feeble the things of this world are. All are brought to deeper faith in Christ through the trials we face. If a poor man's child dies, he weeps concerning all the things he could not give her. If a rich man's child dies, he weeps for all the things he had to give her and now cannot do so. Each man weeps and learns that only in the eternal life God's gives through His Son, Jesus, can we know how to obtain and share the best there is in life and deaht.

Trials level the playing field for everyone. Sorrow, sickness and death do not check your bank account before coming into your life. God’s purpose is to reveal Himself to all of us who know Him, and to call those who do not know Him to personal faith.

III. The Benefit of Our Trials

James 1:12

James concludes by revealing the final and lasting benefits of properly facing life's trials. He shows us that we can agree with David that through affliction we have learned obedience.

A. Rooted in a Consistency

To develop a deep consistency of faith and practice does not come over night. One must learn the first step which James presented as patience. Patience by its very name means to endure. We must be willing to take the difficult way in order to enjoy the benefits and blessings of our trials.

When James A. Garfield was president of Hiram College, a man brought his son for admission as a student and asked if it might be possible for the young student to be given an easier course load rather than the more difficult one. The father told Garfield, "The boy can never take all that course work in. He wants to get through quicker. Can you arrange it for him?"

Mr. Garfield, a minister‑educator said, "Oh yes. He can take a short course; it all depends on what you want to make of him. When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but He takes only two months to make a squash." (story from Pulpit Helps, Jan. 1992, p. 10.)

God doesn’t send us down a difficult road to make life miserable, but He does so to grow us into mature believers. We will never grow to the full height of all that God has planned for us if we bask in the sunshine without the rain.

B. Rewarded with a Crown

We will go through our measure of trials in this life, but we must keep our eyes on the skies! He is coming for us. In death or the rapture Christ will take us home. Our crown(s) is not given to us in this life, but rather in the life to come. He has a home for us. It will be worth it all when we get home.

God is not just blessing us in this life, He is leading us through experiences that make us more useful in the kingdom, that cause us to lean on Him more fully, and that teach us patience in the journey. But, one day, we will go to be with Him. What a day that will be. Keep looking up – your redemption is drawing near!


My wife and I knew a woman some years ago who went from riches to ruin. She lived on the top and landed at the bottom. She was a Christian, and most of us in her situation would have wept, cried, complained and asked why such a trial had come to us. Yet, she never spoke of it. Her spirit was warm, precious and Christ-like. Then, she learned after all of this that she had cancer. I was with her just before her death and bowed to pray for her. Tears came to my eyes before I began to pray. She patted may hand and said, “Now, preacher, don’t be upset. I’m going home. I will be fine. You need to keep telling the story of Jesus.” I finished my prayer, walked out of the hospital and asked God to give me that kind of faith in the midst of trials. You see, that woman knew she had a crown waiting on the other side. That is what God is seeking to teach us all!

Extra Points of Interest to be used in study:

James 1:1 James speaks of brothers in James fifteen times. He speaks bluntly to his readers but he does so in love and tenderness.

James 1:1 This was written to the believers scattered abroad. The word scattered is from the word diaspora. The believers were scattered like seed across the ancient world.

James 1:2 contains the word face which comes from the word peripipto. The word literally means fall into so as to be encompassed. The same term was used by Jesus when He told the story of the Good Samaritan. The traveler in the parable fell among thieves.

James spoke of various trials which speak of the trial of man's integrity, devotion, fidelity, constancy and virtue. In other words, the events which befall us in life reveal what is in our hearts. When we properly face our trials we are revealing the integrity which is resident in our hearts.

The word know speaks of that which one comes to understand through experience. We do not know the truth of this text intellectually, but rather experientially. This is a present, active participle, which indicates that we are continually coming to know this great fact.

James speaks of the trying of your faith, which denotes the means by which our faith is put on trial. How is faith examined? Faith is not examined through statements of faith and doctrine but in our faithfulness to Him in all situations! James is laying the ground work for the fact that faith without works is dead! True faith is proven in the scalding cauldron of human experience, especially the ordeal of human trouble and tribulation.

In the New Testament, the word patience speaks of steadfast endurance and constancy of purpose. It identifies a man who cannot be dissuaded from loyalty to God or from the purpose of God.

In James 1:4 the author speaks of the believer being mature and complete, lacking nothing. The Lord is telling us that only trials can produce these results. And trials can only produce the desired outcome when they are faced properly and dealt with Biblically.

James states that in order to have wisdom we must ask (beg) God. This means that we must crave wisdom and plead with God to obtain it. This wisdom is only available through divine power. We cannot cause ourselves to have this kind of wisdom through human pursuit or human ability. You are not born with this kind of wisdom. People with very high IQ numbers are often devoid of divine wisdom. God promises to give this wisdom to those who seek it from Him. The word used to describe the way God gives this wisdom is a present participle, which means that God gives and gives and keeps on giving!

He does not give us reproach even though we deserve it. That is what this word means in this text. God does not give us wisdom because we deserve it, but because it is His pleasure to do it for those who trust Him.