James 1:4-6
From Trials to Wisdom

 Suffering, Tests, and Temptation  part 3
  
Suffering produces steadfastness, refined faith, spiritual maturity, wisdom, and answered prayer. This message shows how the process works and what your role is. It will also help you appreciate the value of those things so that you will be able to consider it pure joy when suffering comes into your life.

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Take a sheet of paper with a line at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom.
 
I would like to begin by asking you to jot down on that bottom line some trial you are currently going through. Or it can be multiple trials – however many things that are causing you grief, sorrow, or pain. A little later I’ll explain why, but for now just write something on that bottom line.
 
Message of James
 
We are studying through the book of James – we just started; this is sermon number three, and I would like to begin today by drawing your attention to 1:4-5. Right off the bat, when James starts the book, he immediately brings up three topics: perseverance, wisdom, and prayer.
 
4 Perseverance must finish its work – that’s perseverance. 
 
5 If any of you lacks wisdom – there’s wisdom.
 
5 … he should ask God – that’s prayer.
 
The reason I point that out is because those three topics are the three main themes of the book of James. Each one of those themes is emphasized in a different way. The way he emphasizes perseverance in trials is by devoting the very first section of the book to it, and then bringing it up again at the end of the book – like bookends. Everything James teaches us in this book is bookended and surrounded by showing us how to hang in there when suffering comes.
 
The way he emphasizes wisdom is by making that the focus of the entire body of the book, in between the bookends. The whole thing is all about living a wise life. If you look at James’ description of wisdom in chapter 4, there is a list of words describing wisdom, and for each one of those words you will find a section of the book devoted to that topic. So the book of James is basically a handbook on wisdom. It is like the Proverbs of the New Testament.
 
Then the third topic James emphasizes is prayer. He emphasizes that by putting a long section on prayer at the very end, at the climactic point of the book.
 
So those are the themes: perseverance in trials, wise living, and earnest prayer. Or if it is easier to remember: Hang in, Wise up, and Pray hard – that is the message of James. And here in the first half of chapter 1 we are studying that first topic – hanging in there when things get hard. Or to use James’ term – perseverance.
 
Review: Consider It Pure Joy
 
When hardships and disappointments happen, we need to hang in there. In fact, beyond just hang in there – James says consider it pure joy when trials come. A trial is any event in your life that causes, grief, sorrow, or pain. Consider it joy whenever something causes sorrow. Does that mean you have to enjoy the suffering? No, it means you need to anticipate enjoying the results of suffering. Our natural tendency is to completely misinterpret trials. We interpret them as a threat, an enemy, and something that takes away our happiness. And James says, “No, that’s a misinterpretation. You’re misreading the situation. Trials are gifts from God that you can celebrate because of the priceless benefits that can come from them – namely, perseverance and tested faith.
 
And that is a principle you can find everywhere in Scripture – including Paul’s writings. In case you think James and Paul taught different messages, compare this verse to what Paul wrote in Romans 5:3.
 
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
 
Now listen to Paul:
 
Romans 5:3 we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance 4 and perseverance produces tested character
 
He is saying exactly the same thing. Rejoice in trials because you get perseverance through them. Perseverance is the ability to outlast your trial. And we found last week that it is a priceless treasure. We all desperately need more perseverance. If you had more perseverance, your life would be much, much better. All your trials would be easier to handle, you wouldn’t sin as much, you wouldn’t do things you regret as much, your life would be more pleasing to God, and you would have a lot more joy. So take that paper where you wrote down your trial, and on that middle line, before the parenthesis, write “perseverance,” and draw an arrow from the trial to the perseverance. And then let that sink in for a moment. Think about those trials you wrote down. You can consider those good things, because look what they can do – they can give you perseverance.
 
Maturity
 
But that is not even the best part. What is even more important is the fact that perseverance brings you to spiritual maturity.
 
4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may become mature and complete, not lacking anything.
 
No persevering through trials = no maturity. That is where we left off last time, but I would like to say a few more things about the connection between perseverance and spiritual maturity before we move on. Lack of perseverance stops spiritual progress. It brings the maturing process to a halt. Think about how it works with physical maturity. When you are an infant, you have no perseverance at all. You feel a little sleepy, and that feeling is unpleasant, so you start screaming. You feel a hunger pang – you start screaming and crying. You cannot handle even the slightest discomfort without coming unglued.
 
If you ever want to make it in kindergarten you are going to have to get over that. And you did. You grew to the point where you could handle some basic discomforts, and that enables you to move on to the next stage of growth.
 
When you are in third grade, you have made progress even since kindergarten, but you still have a ways to go. You show up at school and all the kids make fun of your new shoes, and you are devastated. You cannot even think of anything worse that could possibly happen to you. But now, you have progressed beyond that, and think of the effect of that maturing. Think of how much stronger you are now. How many of you would love it if the worst problem in your life was that a group of third graders didn’t like your shoes? You are so much stronger now – trials that used to be devastating to you don’t even register on the gauge now. They used to be excruciating – now you barely feel them.
 
Now, it’s true – as you get tougher, the kinds of hardships that come your way get more and more painful. But that is necessary so that you can continue to make progress. One of the happiest days of my life was the day I got my driver’s license. Driving is a great privilege, but you can’t have that privilege until you reach a certain level of maturity. We don’t let third graders drive – they don’t have the maturity. After getting my license I wanted to get married, but that had to wait several more years until I matured even further. Then I wanted to be a pastor, and guess what – a bunch more years of maturing. The maturing process was painful, but the benefits of each new level of maturity made it worth it. Maturing is painful but it is the goal. It is what we want.
 
And that is even truer in the spiritual realm. The kinds of blessings God can give you increase exponentially each time you reach a higher level of spiritual maturity. Greater maturity is a priceless treasure, which means perseverance is a priceless treasure because that is the only way to reach maturity.
 
Even Jesus Matured through Suffering
 
Did you know that was even true for Jesus? Jesus had to go through a maturing process.
 
Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
 
Jesus never sinned in any way, however there was a time when He was immature, and needed to grow and progress – physically, socially, and even spiritually. Was it a sin for Jesus to cry when he was two weeks old and experienced some discomfort? No. That’s not a sin for a two-week-old. But if you are doing that at age 20, you have got some major spiritual immaturity. So even Jesus had to mature spiritually in His human nature. And how did He do that? What was it that brought Jesus to maturity?
 
Hebrews 2:10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God … should make the author of their salvation mature through suffering.
 
Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made mature, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him
 
Are you planning on reaching spiritual maturity in some other way than Jesus reached it? Not possible. Raise your hand if you want to be like Jesus – if you want character like His character. By raising your hand you just said, “I want God to send trial after trial after trial into my life until I reach maturity.” And when those trials come you can consider it pure joy – you can categorize them as good things (like bitter medicine that cures your fatal disease), because you know it is only through those trials that you will be able to develop the perseverance that will lead to spiritual maturity. So now write the word “maturity” at the top left, and draw an arrow from the perseverance up to the maturity. And let that sink in for a moment.
 
Refined Faith
 
Hopefully that is enough to convince you of the value of perseverance, so you can consider all your trials pure joy. But if you are not quite there yet, don’t worry because James isn’t done. There’s more. Look again at verse 3.
 
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  
 
Tested Faith
 
Last week I mentioned the value of testing. We need to know if our faith is real. If God tests for faith in your heart and the test comes up negative, that is actually a valuable thing for you because it lets you know that what you thought was real faith actually wasn’t. Now instead of relying on what is false, you know you need to strive for what is real. And it is also valuable when the test comes up positive, because then you can have joyful confidence.
 
1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  7 These have come so that your faith …may be proved genuine  
 
So the testing is valuable because of what it reveals about your faith, but also for another reason. The testing process itself actually improves your faith. And this is where we are really going to see the value of perseverance, because James shows a very important principle here about the connection between perseverance and faith.
 
Faith and Perseverance
 
We saw last week that the word for testing here refers to the refining process – like putting gold in fire to melt off the impurities. So you could translate verse 3, the refining of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance is simply the outworking of refined faith. So on that middle line, after the word perseverance, in the parenthesis write in either refined faith or strengthened faith, whichever helps you understand it better. Or if it would help you, instead of parentheses you can put an equal sign.
 
Christian perseverance is a matter of trusting God. The reason you can outlast your trials when you have perseverance is because you trust God enough to keep following Him even when it’s hard. Faith always follows in the path of whomever it trusts. If you are following your own path it’s because you trust yourself. If you are following the world’s path it’s because you believe them when they promise happiness. But if you trust God, you will follow His way. James will make that crystal clear in chapter 2 – there is no such thing as faith that doesn’t follow. If God says, “This is the best way to go,” and you say, “I trust You,” but you refuse to go that way, that proves you don’t really trust Him. Whenever James mentions faith, you will always see action connected to it. And that is true here. The stronger faith gets the more it perseveres. The more you trust God, the more you follow His way even in trials.
 
So when we lack perseverance, it is a faith problem. We are not trusting God like we should. Don’t think of perseverance as just toughness. It is more than just the ability to grit your teeth and grind through a trial. Perseverance has to do with your relationship to God. Perseverance stays on the righteous path even when other ways seem so much better – not out of sheer toughness and willpower, but because of trust. Perseverance happens when you are really, really convinced that God can be trusted when He says, “This is the best path.”
 
Suppose I mess up at work, and my boss asks me about what happened. And at that moment I realize, “Hey, I’m the only one who knows what happened. If I just lie and save face a little bit, it won’t hurt anyone. What the boss doesn’t know won’t hurt him, and it won’t hurt the company any. I’ve learned my lesson, so it’s not going to happen again. What harm does it do if I just fudge the truth a little bit? On the other hand, if I do tell the truth – he’ll get upset, it will ruin his day and my day and cause all kinds of needless problems for no good reason.”
 
What is happening at that moment? The narrow path of truth telling is going off to the right, and the option of telling a lie is veering off to the left. And Jesus Christ stands there, and, through Scripture speaks very clearly: “Your best option is the truth-telling path. In the big picture, that path will benefit you the most. And if you want joy – that path, as painful as it will be for the first few steps, will open up into far greater joy than any other path. That path to the left seems really smooth at first, but I can see what you can’t see. I can see around the bend where that path runs into some cliffs of agonizing pain, and severe injury and damage to your heart. Trust me – you’ll be way better off if you take My path. Plus, if you take My path, I’ll tell you what I’ll do: I’ll reward you. I promise – I will use all the resources I have at My disposal, and I will make it worth your while.”
 
What are you going to do? The wind is blowing hard to the left. Other people on the road are jostling you toward the left. Gravity is pulling you over to the left. Forces are acting on you – which way are you going to go? It all depends on what you believe, and how much you trust what Jesus is telling you in His Word. If you have weak, patchy, on-again off-again faith, you will not be able to push against all those forces and persevere on the narrow path. You will doubt whether Jesus’ way really will give you greater joy, and at that moment of doubt the strong winds of suffering and temptation will sweep you right over into that left path, and you will open up your mouth and out will come a lie.
 
So can you see the relationship between perseverance and faith? They are the same thing. That is really all perseverance is – strong trust in God. We thought perseverance was a priceless treasure last week, now we can see it is an ever greater treasure than we thought! How great a treasure is refined, purified, strong, unwavering faith? One hundred percent of your dealings with God depend on faith. Everything in the Christian life depends on faith. Nothing is more valuable. Strong faith is priceless for a 1000 reasons, but James is going to give us just one. Just in case you don’t have enough reason to consider your trials pure joy already – just in case increased perseverance, stronger faith, and spiritual maturity aren’t enough to make you see the value of trials, James gives us one more.
 
Wisdom
 
When you go through trials, and instead of persevering, you buckle under the pressure, instead of being mature and complete, not lacking anything, you will lack all kinds of important things. Your spiritual life will be full of gaping holes. And one of those holes will be in the area of wisdom. That is where James goes next. In verse 4 he talks about not lacking anything, and then in verse 5 he says, “speaking of lacking things – if any of you lacks wisdom…” The implication is that if you don’t persevere through trials, one of the many things you will lack is wisdom. And lacking wisdom is a huge problem because it means you lack everything in the rest of the book of James. The whole body of this book is about wisdom, so if you lack wisdom, you will lack pretty much everything in the Christian life. Wisdom is not something you can afford to lack. We will talk more next time about what a priceless treasure wisdom is, but for now – just think of all the things James commands in this book. Wisdom is when you live like that. But you will never get wisdom without perseverance, and here’s why:
 
Wisdom Only Comes through Persevering Prayer
 
Wisdom only comes through a certain kind of prayer. When you pray for wisdom, if you want God to answer, you have to add a certain ingredient to that prayer. And guess what that ingredient is? You will know exactly what it is as soon as you see what it looks like when it is missing. That is described in verse 6.
 
6 … he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. … 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
 
Unstable, double minded, doubting, like a wave of the sea – blown and tossed by the wind. What virtue is that guy missing? He has no stability; he’s getting knocked all over the place by the storms of life. Instead of standing firm, he just gets tossed in whatever direction the wind happens to be blowing. What does this guy need? Perseverance! Or to put it another way, look at verse 6.
 
Must Believe
 
6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt
 
Literally, verse 6 says, But let him ask in faith, not doubting… This is the same word for faith that he used back in verse 3, when he talked about the testing of your faith.
 
And Not Doubt
 
When you ask God for wisdom (or anything else), if you want Him to answer the prayer, you cannot have that weak, contaminated, impure, on-again off-again, now I trust You, now I don’t kind of faith. You need strong, persevering faith. The word translated doubt is not referring to honest intellectual questions about evidences. If you have a question about evidence for Christianity, it’s fine for you to ask it, and to look into the evidence. This is not talking about that kind of doubt. This is talking about unstable loyalty. Wavering trust. A divided heart. It comes from a word that means to make a judgment or to decide between various options. This kind of doubting is when you arrive at the moment of temptation or trial, and you decide at that moment to rethink whether you can trust God.
 
When you make a decision to go a certain way, it is fine to reassess that decision if some new evidence arises, but it is never wise to reassess in a moment of temptation or trial. Suppose you do years of research on nutrition, and you finally decide on the ideal diet. And you make a commitment: “I’m going to stick to this diet for one year.” Two weeks later Tim comes along with a box of Lamar’s doughnuts. That is not the time to re-think your plan. If you have questions about some aspects of it, fine – go back to your study on a day when you are not being tempted, and do some more research. But the moment you are offered a dessert is not the time for reassessment of a decision that you spent years arriving at. You are not going to be able to think rationally at that moment. When you are tired and don’t feel like doing your workout – that is the wrong moment to rethink your exercise regimen. If it needs to be reassessed, fine – do that at a time when you’re thinking clearly. If you rethink your commitments when things get hard, you will never make any progress.
 
Doubt Stunts Your Growth
 
When you prove something, then you keep doubting it, and you will never grow. Imagine a math student in a college calculus class, working on some complex problem, and he gets to one part where he is adding some things together and he says, “I’d better go back through the formal mathematical proof of 2+2=4 just to be sure that’s really true.” He is figuring the distance between two points and he says, “I’d better go through the proof for A2+B2=C2 just to double check.” If he tries to re-prove everything he has already proved in the past – he will never be able to advance in math. In order to ever make progress, you have to get to the point where you say, “I’ve already proved that. I can now assume it to be true. I don’t need to prove it again; time to move on.” You are not sacrificing intellectual integrity when you do that. Every scientist does it with 1000 different applications every day.
 
We all do that with math, we do it with our daily routines, we do it every time we drive a car or drink bottled water or trust a chair to hold our weight. We trust things we have already established without re-investigating. It is the only way to get through life. People who cannot accept that something has been established, cannot ever make any progress in life. They can’t go anywhere. They are like the guy who leaves his house and thinks, “Did I turn off the stove?” And he is 99% sure, but that 1% is driving him crazy so he goes back and checks. It’s off, everything’s fine, he gets back in his car, drives one block, and then starts questioning it again. And he can never get more than a block away from his house because he can’t dismiss irrational doubts.
 
God won’t answer our prayers when we are like that with trusting Him. We need to have faith that can walk in a straight line even when the wind blows. Perseverance (refined faith) is priceless because it allows you to remain in the furnace long enough to reach spiritual maturity and become like Jesus. But it is also priceless because if you have it, God will answer your prayers for wisdom. So back to your paper – write in “wisdom” on the right side at the top, and draw an arrow from perseverance and strong faith up to wisdom. Look down again at your trials, and follow the lines up, and let that sink in.
 
Let Perseverance Do Its Work
 
“Ok, but I’ve been suffering all my life and I still don’t have perseverance or strong faith or maturity or wisdom. Why isn’t it working for me?”
 
The answer to that is obscured a little bit in the NIV. In verse 4, the NIV says, Perseverance must finish its work… In the Greek that is actually another command. It is an imperative verb: Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Trials don’t automatically bring you to maturity. You have to let perseverance do its work on your heart.
 
How do you let perseverance do its work? The same way you let a muscle do its work – by using it. Like I said last week – use the little bit of perseverance you have to persevere through small things, and that will build your perseverance muscle to be able to handle bigger and bigger things. And it is when you are able to weather those storms, that you start making real progress toward spiritual maturity.
 
Sometimes we are defeated by some particular test or temptation, and we think, “Man, it just seems impossible to stand firm when I face that particular test.” We know it’s not impossible, because 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises God will always provide a way of escape so we can stand up under it. But in some cases it sure can seem like it’s impossible. So we say, “God, this temptation is so incredibly hard to resist. This trial is so incredibly hard to withstand without reverting to some sinful response.” And God’s answer might be, “Yes, that one is extremely hard. But I gave you five other trials today that were actually quite easy. They were well within your ability to persevere through, but you didn’t.” You made some plans for the day, someone around you was careless and now your plans are spoiled, and you got mad. How hard is it to have a gracious response? That’s not a huge trial. It’s small. Maybe you knew God wanted you to get out of bed at 6:00, and you didn’t roll out until 6:30. That’s not a huge test. You could have passed that one with minimal effort. All day long you face little trials that really would not be that hard to persevere through, and for each one we do persevere through without reverting to a sinful attitude or action, we gain greater perseverance to become more equipped to handle the big tests. So often, when we find ourselves failing the big one time after time, it is because we’re not building our perseverance on the little ones.
 
Let your little perseverance do its work. Stand firm through all the little trials. If there is a way out of the fire that does not involve sin, then that is God’s kindness – giving you relief. But if the only way out of the fire is to sin, or to bail out on something God called you to do, then you need to stay in the furnace until the dross is burned off and the Lord gives you a non-sinful way of escape. Do that, and perseverance will do its work and produce more perseverance, stronger faith, spiritual maturity, answered prayer, and wisdom. And that really is something to consider pure joy.
 
A Place for Sorrow
 
Is there a place for sorrow and weeping when we suffer? Absolutely. But behind and underneath that sorrow is a joy that is greater than our sorrow.
 
“You mean it’s possible to have sorrow and joy at the same time?”
 
Of course it is.
 
2 Corinthians 6:10 we are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing
 
The part of you that experiences emotions is very complex, and capable of multiple emotions at the same time. That is why a mother, while giving birth, can alternate between tears of pain and tears of joy. You lose your job on the same day your daughter gets married – you are sad about the job and happy about your daughter. There is no question God made us capable of experiencing conflicting emotions. In fact, is there ever really a time when you only have one emotion? Isn’t it true that you always have some sorrow in your life – at all times? And at all times there is also at least something you are glad about?
 
So we always have a mix of emotions, but as Christians our joy should be greater than our sorrow because the good news for us is so much better than the bad news. That is why Paul, who suffered beyond anything most of us experience in our worst nightmares, said this:
 
2 Corinthians 7:4 … in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
 
He could say that, not because he was in denial about the severity of his suffering, but because he was able to weigh the importance of temporary things compared to eternal things.
 
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
 
There is a real joy in our suffering – if we interpret things correctly.
 
Write It Down
 
If you struggle to handle suffering well, I would urge you to get some 3X5 cards and physically sit down and draw out what you drew on that bulletin insert. Write out the trial. Then write the benefits that will come if you let perseverance do its work. And that is more than just greater perseverance and stronger faith and maturity and wisdom. Scripture speaks of many, many other benefits. Write down as many as you can think of. I have a bunch of them listed in the footnotes in the sermon manuscript[1], and an even longer list in that article titled “Benefits of Suffering” in the articles page of Treasuringgod.com.
 
Self-Pity
 
You would be surprised at how effective something as simple as writing this out on a card can be in helping your heart interpret trials correctly, and it can guard you against one of the most deadly spiritual traps there is: namely, self-pity. Self-pity is the opposite of the attitude James is calling us to.
 
Definition
 
Self-pity is when you become like a lawyer building a case for how hard you have it – how much you deserve pity and compassion. “This happened to me, and then this, then this, then she said that, then my car broke down, and nobody cares about me…” – you are building a case. And when you are building a case for something, what do you do? You gather in all the evidence that confirms your case – everything in your life that is hard and unfair and painful, and you ignore any evidence that spoils your case (good things and blessings from God). Some blessing comes your way and you sweep that under the rug. Someone points out something positive and immediately it’s, “Yeah, but…” and you are right back to a negative thing. That is why when someone is wrapped up in self-pity, and you try to cheer them up by pointing to all their blessings, it never works. They won’t let those thoughts sink into their heart because that spoils their “woe is me” case.
 
So what happens when you fall into self-pity is that you cut off the flow of all joy into your life. God designed streams and tributaries of joy to continually flow into your heart from His blessings, but self pity dams those up so all inflows of joy are blocked off. It lets any and every painful thing come in, and no joyful thing. Then it magnifies those painful things. Self pity refuses to be comforted, because comfort would spoil its whole case. So even with the 10,000 blessings God gives you every day, including eternal salvation and forgiveness of sins at the cost of His own Son, if someone checked your gratitude levels they would not even register on the gauge.
 
And the result of that is pretty easy to predict – discouragement. You get so depressed that now you can’t snap out of it even if you try. At the beginnings of self-pity you can decide, “Ok, enough of this – I’m going to focus on the blessings” and it works. But if you wait too long, you drop into full-blown discouragement – maybe even to the breaking point.
 
In some cases it actually feels like something in you snaps, and you experience something that feels like a nervous breakdown. But it is not really that the trials you are facing are that much different from trials you faced in the past. And it is not a problem with your nerves. In fact, it’s really not even a suffering problem; it is an interpretation problem. Why did all that happen? It was because when the trials came, we decided the bad part was big and the good part was small. Man’s part really mattered to us, and God’s part didn’t matter much to us. Our attention, our thoughts, our daydreams were all focused on what people are doing and saying and what their motives might be and how they are failing to love us properly; rather than fixing our attention, thoughts, and daydreams on what God is doing.
 
Breakdown of the Will
 
But we don’t want to take responsibility for that, so we just blame it on hormones, or chemical imbalances, or nerves. But it is not your nerves. What happens in a nervous breakdown? The world wants you to think that is some sort of medical condition. It isn’t. The thing that broke down was not your nerves; it was your will. It was your steadfastness. It was your perseverance. It was your resistance to defeat. Your will just gives up and quits and gives in to every defeating attitude.
 
“This is too much from me. I can’t take anymore - I’m done.”
 
That happens because of lack of perseverance. The person has a spiritually sedentary lifestyle, never really persevering through much of anything, and the perseverance muscle gets weaker and weaker and atrophies to the point that when a big test comes along, the person just snaps. His will collapses. Or he has a panic attack. Or a fit of anger. Or any number of other bad results. All of that happens when we misinterpret trials. Self-pity is not your friend. It will do nothing for you. Fight it. It is the opposite of what God commands. God says consider it pure joy; self-pity says consider it pure misery.
 
God’s way is better. His way is true. When you face hardship in your life, just remember the first two commands in the book of James:
 
1)Consider it pure joy because of what you know about trials
2) 
3)Let perseverance finish its work
4) 
The path to joy is suffering.
 
Benediction: Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Application Questions (James 1:25)
 
1.Take a moment to do the 3X5 card exercise and share with the group how your current trials are a reason for joy.
2. 
3.What would “Letting perseverance do its work” look like in these particular trials?
4. 
5.On the back of the card, write down your reason for existence. Why did God create you? Then discuss with the group how the trials on the front of the card can contribute to your purpose on the back of the card.
6. 
7. 

[1] Suffering can give you greater understanding of God’s Word (Ps.119:71), greater ability to glorify God (1 Pe.1:6-7), increased power from God (2 Cor.12:7-10), greater ability to experience God’s attributes (1 Pe.4:13), increased understanding of the goodness and presence of God (Ps.13:1) intensified thirst for Him (Ps.63:1), intensified prayer (Lk.22:44) increased hope (Rev.21:4, 2 Cor.5:8), increased hatred of sin (Ro.8:19-22), participation in the suffering of Christ (1 Pe.4:12), motivation to change (Ps.119:76,72), increased compassion (Heb.2:18, 2 Cor.1:3-4), and reward both in this life and the next (Lk.6:22-23).