James 1:2-4 - Profiting from Trials.

James 1:2-4: Profiting from Trials.

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come 
your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know 
that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 
4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you 
will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  

The Greek word here translated patience/perseverance/endurance 
is far too passive and is not simply the ability to bear things; it 
is the ability to turn them to greatness and to glory. The thing 
which amazed the heathen in the centuries of persecution was that the 
martyrs did not die grimly, they died singing. [Barclay Commentary] 

   James doesn't say if trouble comes your way but when it does. 
He assumes that we will have troubles and that it is possible to 
profit from them. We can't really know the depth of our character until 
we see how we react under pressure. It is easy to be kind to others 
when everything is going well, but can you still be kind when others 
are treating you unfairly? James tells us to tum our hardships into 
times of learning.  
   It may help to remember that God wants to make you mature and 
complete, not simply to keep you from all pain. Instead of complaining 
about your struggles, look at them as opportunities for growth. The 
point isn't to pretend to be happy in the face of pain, but to have a 
positive outlook because of the good that troubles can produce in your 
   Thank God for promising to be with you in rough times. Ask 
him to give you wisdom for the problems you face and to give you the 
strength to endure them. Then be patient. God will not abandon you in 
your problems. He will stay close and help you grow. [One Year NLT 

   Most people do not welcome the hard lessons of life. "Why do 
I have to learn this the hard way?" they fume. "Why couldn't I 
have just been able to read a good book on the topic?"  
   James, no stranger to trials himself, urges readers to take 
the most unexpected attitude when bad times descend. Although his 
admonishment sounds strange at first, the outcome of doing so is spiritually 
   Be glad when you have a bad day - the experience will do you 
some good, James wrote (James 1:2-4). As uncomfortable as this 
message is, James is not saying that we should enjoy trials. Rather, he 
is saying that we should be glad for the good effects that trials 
can have on us.  
   A bout of suffering, usually considered a curse, can be a 
blessing. Suffering through trials teaches many things essential to life - 
such as how to have patience and endurance. Living through a trial is 
also the best way to build character.  
   When troubles come your way, welcome them as teachers, 
however unpleasant they may be. Take advantage of your bad circumstances 
by depending on God to get you through hard times. He will not only 
take care of you, but he will also make you a better person through 
it. [The One Year Through the Bible Devotional by Dave Veerman] 

"The Christian must expect to be jostled by trials on the 
Christian way." All kinds of experiences will come to us. There will be 
the test of the sorrows and the disappointments which seek to take 
our faith away. There will be the test of the seductions which seek 
to lure us from the right way. There will be the tests of the 
dangers, the sacrifices, the unpopularity which the Christian way must so 
often involve. But they are not meant to make us fall; they are meant 
to make us soar. They are not meant to defeat us; they are meant to 
be defeated. They are not meant to make us weaker; they are meant 
to make us stronger. Therefore we should not bemoan them; we should 
rejoice in them. The Christian is like the athlete. The heavier the 
course of training he undergoes, the more he is glad, because he knows 
that it is fitting him all the better for victorious effort. As 
Browning said, we must "welcome each rebuff that turns earth's smoothness 
rough," for every hard thing is another step on the upward way. [Barclay 


   Pebble Beach, on the California coast, has become quite 
famous for the beautiful pebbles found there. The raging white surf 
continually roars, thundering and pounding against the rocks on the shore. 
These stones are trapped in the arms of the merciless waves. They are 
tossed, rolled, rubbed together, and ground against the sharp edges of 
the cliffs. Both day and night, this process of grinding continues 
relentlessly. And what is the result? 
   Tourists from around the world flock there to collect the 
beautiful round stones. They display them in cabinets and use them to 
decorate their homes. Yet a little farther up the coast, just around the 
point of the cliff, is a quiet cove. Protected from the face of the 
ocean, sheltered from the storms, and always in the sun, the sands are 
covered with an abundance of pebbles never sought by the travelers. 
   So why have these stones been left untouched through all the 
years? Simply because they have escaped all the turmoil and the 
grinding of the waves. The quietness and peace have left them as they 
have always been - rough, unpolished, and devoid of beauty - for 
polish is the result of difficulties. 
   Since God knows what niche we are to fill, let us trust Him 
to shape us to it. And since He knows what work we are to do, let 
us trust Him to grind us so we will be properly prepared. 
   O blows that strike! O hurts that pierce 
      This fainting heart of mine!
   What are you but the Master's tools 
      Forming a work Divine?
   Nearly all of God's jewels are crystallized tears. [Streams 
in the Desert by Cowman re Isa. 49:2] 

   Many people see abundant spring rains as a great blessing to 
farmers, especially if the rains come after the plants have sprouted and 
are several inches tall. What they don't realize is that even a 
short drought can have a devastating effect on a crop of seedlings 
that has received too much rain. 
   Why? Because during frequent rains, the young plants are not 
required to push their roots deeper into the soil in search of water. If 
a drought occurs later, plants with shallow root systems will 
quickly die. 
   We often receive abundance in our lives--rich fellowship, 
great teaching, thorough "soakings" of spiritual blessings. Yet, when 
stress or tragedy enters our lives, we may find ourselves thinking God 
has abandoned us or is unfaithful. The fact is, we have allowed the 
"easiness" of our lives to keep us from pushing our spiritual roots deeper. 
We have allowed others to spoon-feed us, rather than develop our 
own deep personal relationship with God through prayer and study of 
His Word. 
   Only the deeply rooted are able to endure hard times without 
wilting. The best advice is to enjoy the "rain" while seeking to grow 
even closer to Him. [God's Little Devotional Bible re Rom.8:28] 

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly and one day a small opening 
appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it 
struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to 
stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as 
it could and it could go no farther. The man decided to help the 
butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining tip 
of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a 
swollen body and small shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the 
butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge 
and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in 
time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its 
life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It 
never was able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not 
understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for 
the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of 
forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it 
would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the 
cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God 
allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would 
cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we 
could never fly. brenda.jean.williams@us.pwcglobal.com 

In the full light of day, and in hearing of the music of other 
voices, the caged bird will not sing the song that this master seeks to 
teach him.  He learns a snatch of this, a trill of that, but never a 
separate and entire melody.  But the master covers the cage, and places 
it where the bird will listen to the one song he is to sing.  In 
the dark, he tries and tries again to sing that song until it is 
learned, and he breaks forth in perfect melody.  Then the bird is brought 
forth, and ever after he can sing that song in the light.  Thus God 
deals with His children.  He has a song to teach us, and when we have 
learned it amid the shadows of affliction, we can sing it ever 
afterward.  MH472. 

   I wish you could have met our son, Matthew. His name means 
"God's gift," and I count it all joy that he was in our lives, albeit 
not long enough. 
   Several years before he was born, I was in seminary pondering 
topics for my thesis. A professor suggested, "Nobody's written one on 
the Christian education of the mentally retarded child. You write 
it." So I researched, observed classes with retarded children, and 
wrote the paper. My wife, Joyce, even helped edit and type three 
revisions. A few years later, I interned at a school district and was 
unexpectedly assigned to test mentally retarded children. 
   One night Joyce and I were talking: "Isn't it interesting how 
much experience we've had with retarded children? Could it be that 
God is preparing us for something?" That's all we said. Two years 
later, God gave us Matthew. 
   At first he seemed healthy. But when he was eight months old, 
seizures caused by undiagnosed brain damage began, and we were told that 
our son would never reach a mental age of more than two or three. 
With Matthew, we experienced tremendous pain, joy, disappointment, 
and delight. For more than three years we prayed specifically that 
Matthew might walk. One day, when we were all together, he stood up and 
took about five steps. Joyce and I were caught up in the moment, but 
our nine-year-old daughter said, "Let's stop right now and give 
thanks to God for answering our prayer:" 
   Matthew lived twenty-two years. And I am a better husband, 
father, friend, professor, therapist, and marriage counselor because of 
him. Nothing in his life, nothing in my life, and nothing in your 
life, my friend, is ever wasted with God. 
   H. Norman Wright, a licensed marriage, family, and child 
therapist, is the founder and director of Christian Marriage Enrichment. He 
is the author of more than sixty books, including Always Daddy's 
Girl, The Power of a Parent's Words, and Recovering from the Losses of 
Life. [The One Year Bible Live Verse Devotional] 

   In Las Vegas for a family wedding, we were fascinated by the 
roller coaster that was part of the New York-New York Hotel. My sister 
and I asked our mother, not the amusement-park type, if she would 
mind sitting with our purses while we rode.  
   The look on her face surprised us, so I asked, "Mom, do you 
want to go with us?"  
   To our amazement, she exclaimed, "Sure!" 
   Mom was fine with the roll bar clanking into place in our 
laps, but her puzzled expression showed she did not understand the 
point of the shoulder harnesses.  
   I asked, "Mom, did you know this thing goes upside down?" 
   Eyes wide, she protested, "What!" 
   And we were off!
   Julie and I loved it, but Mom's mouth was tightly pursed, and 
her eyes were narrowed as she kept her gaze locked on her feet. She 
was not having a good time. In fact, she was downright miserable.  
   The three of us were experiencing the exact same event, but 
our responses were worlds apart. The difference was our attitudes. 
Isn't that like life? Sometimes we find ourselves locked into a roller 
coaster that is upside down, and we do not like being upside down. It is 
terrifying, and we have no control. We were expecting something lovely and 
smooth, but that is not what we encountered.  
   Near the end of the ride, a camera snapped a picture of us. 
Mom was absolutely not interested in buying it, but we did anyway. 
And the picture, now an heirloom since Mom is gone, is a priceless 
illustration of the difference attitude makes. Sue Bohlin  
   Lord, help me to invite you into my attitudes. Help me 
release them into your hands. Transform them so I will not be miserable 
when the roller coasters go upside down and your goal is to show me 
that, whatever my circumstances, I am safe in your love. Amen. [The 
One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter by Mary Hollingsworth] 


Our attitude toward trials (James 1:2-4). James called on us to 
actually welcome trials and difficulties. These are to produce unmixed 
joy, not because the trials themselves are pleasurable, but because 
we look beyond the immediate experience to foresee the result. God 
permits such experiences as a test (intended to show the validity, not 
weakness) of our faith. Such trials call for perseverance, which in turn 
produces maturity and spiritual wholeness. If we are able to look beyond 
the present and see the product God intends to produce through our 
suffering, we will experience joy. This perspective is impossible for most 
men. But those who have confidence in God value character above 
pleasure, and eternity above the present moment. [Victor Teacher's 

Let us take care, in times of trial, that patience, and not 
passion, is set to work in us: whatever is said or done, let patience 
have the saying and doing of it. When the work of patience is 
complete, it will furnish all that is necessary for our Christian race and 
warfare. We should not pray so much for the removal of affliction, as for 
wisdom to make a right use of it. [Matthew Henry Commentary] 


It's In The Valleys I Grow