Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

James 1:1-4 - How do we persevere in trials?

The basic requirement for coping with trials is to focus on the development of our inner lives. After all, this is the main reason why God brings them into our lives.

Think of how Jesus responded to trials and of how believers, whether in the Bible or in literature or through personal contact, responded to them. Obviously, we have one perfect example and many imperfect examples. But we are to follow their example. What did Jesus do? One of his biggest trials was Gethsemane – there he prayed and there he sought company with his friends. Sadly, they were unable to show much friendship on that occasion. Yet Jesus did not wait for them to show it, he initiated it. So if you are in trouble, don’t wait for others to come to you. You go and see them and get help from their company.

When we get lost in a car, there is no point in discussing where we are with one another. Instead we get out the road map or start listening to the satnav. When our lives start getting confused, and there will be times when they will be very disconcerting, we have to get out the spiritual road map, which is the Bible. Obviously, when using a car, it would have helped to become familiar with how the satnav works when things were easy. It is similar to the Bible. We should get to know its instructions and promises when life is straightforward because that will help us when difficult times come.

Be on the lookout for particular sins showing themselves. One such sin would be resentment against others who may not seem to be undergoing problems, although that is a silly assumption to make. Or we may sense rebellion within our hearts against the providence of God and start to imagine that life is unfair. Or we may refuse to use the means that God has given to us to help us through such times. Those responses will not help, and they are sinful. When we sense them we should confess them and ask for forgiveness.

Remember that we are Christians and that there should be the joy of Jesus with us. This joy is not a sign of unreality; instead it is a sign that we are drinking at the correct fountain. The joy is not because of the circumstances, but is evidence of supernatural help in the circumstances. Joy is not the only emotion we should have, of course.

Consider the intercession of Jesus and the strengthening ministry of the Holy Spirit. We have to remind ourselves that although others may forget us Jesus never does and that although others may avoid us the Holy Spirit never ignores his people. They are continually active on behalf of every believer and they know what they are doing.

Think of the reward from Jesus and his commendation. James will mention this detail later in his letter. Meanwhile, think of what Jesus said to his disciples in the upper room and apply it to ourselves: ‘You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom’ (Luke 22:28-29). There will be a great heavenly reward for steadfastness.

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