How to face trials?

Points Covered: How to face trials? How to be patient in trials? Purpose of Job’s suffering?

A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials. Lucius Annaeus Seneca

All of us experience trouble in one way or another. Trials are a part of life. Everything from a flat tire to the death of a loved one, and everything in between conceivable hits our lives. Job said in Job 5:7 Man is born to trouble as surely as sparkly fly upward. Jesus said in John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble. But Christians another trouble that non-Christians don’t have. We have to endure the rejection of a hostile society who rejects the gospel. We all have trials. So how to face trials in life?

Open your Bibles to James 5. James was writing to the Jews who were facing afflictions and persecution. In James 5:7, James is giving us the key as to how to face trials in life.

James 5:7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters. That’s really what it’s all about all the way down through verse 11. It’s a section about being patient in the midst of trials. The basic instruction here for the troubled is to be patient. God is aware that there are trials and there is suffering but nonetheless we are to be patient.

We can have an ungodly response to persecutions and trials as well. In fact, we could even go so far as to blame God, become irritated with Him and transfer some of our frustrations to our own family and Christian brothers and sisters. There are Christians who when they are put into the crucible of suffering become impossible for anyone to stand. So here is a passage calling for patience.

James 5:7-8 7Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 

James 5:10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Three times patience is mentioned in this passage. So whatever the trial, you must be patient. It may well be that you’ve lost your job and you are waiting or a breakthrough or whether you are a student and you have a lot of stress or whatever, being patient is not that easy. James says be patient.

The real word meaning here is to be long-tempered, not short-tempered. Patience basically it has the idea of being long suffering with people and circumstances. Patience is enduring a tough circumstances you are going through and not be bitter. Now the question is, but how to be patient?

Six practical keys to being patient during trials.

1. Anticipate the Lord’s coming.

James 5:7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.

The church has always lived in the hope of the Second Coming. We look for the Lord Jesus Christ to return soon. We know we’re not going to be here forever, we know we’re going to a better land, a city whose builder and maker is God. And we live in the light of the Second Coming.

In other words, if you’re going to endure the trials and persecution of the wicked, you’ve got to have your eyes on the return and the arrival of Jesus Christ. It’s the hope of the church.

A Christian who is suffering to look to the coming of Christ. Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

1 John 3:3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

2 Peter 3:11-12 11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

Now go back to James where he gives us an illustration: James 5:7b See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.

If you’re a farmer, you plant and then you wait for the harvest. The farmer has long patience. The harvest depends on the providence of God. He depends on the harvest for his existence. It may well be also that the few weeks before the crop comes in he’s down to his last rations and he may be almost fasting, waiting for that crop to come in. The farmer has long patience until it comes in.

How long is his patience? He waits through the former and the latter rain. Not like the little child who plants the seed one day and runs to the garden the next day and sticks his little hand into the dirt and pulls it out to see if it’s growing and thereby kills it. The farmer is not like that. The farmer plants and waits. As the farmer waits for the precious fruit, so do you for a precious reward.

It means when you’re about to collapse under trial and persecution, prop yourself up with the hope of the Second Coming and be patient. Things won’t always be like this.

You say, “How soon?” James 5:8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. It’s just about to happen. Jesus could come for His church any moment. Romans 13:12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. Jesus could come at any moment. He could come in a split second.

Illustration: We were at Calcutta until 1990. I studied at a school called KV Fort William. The school was literally in the British constructed Fort William next to the Hooghly river. We often used to play Table Tennis in the classroom. After each period, we know when the next teacher would come in. So the moment a teacher goes out, we join the desks, take our racquets out and start playing. Once as I was playing, the teacher came in unexpectedly. Our racquets were confiscated and my parents were called to deal with me.

I know Jesus is coming, so it purifies your life. I don’t want to be doing something or saying something or acting in a way that would be a dishonor to Christ when He comes. I want to be sure all is right and all is well, that’s the Christian hope. That could happen any moment. And James says if you want to be able to endure suffering, just live in the light of that.

2. Recognize the Lord’s Judgement.

James 5:9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 

Illustration: Have you seen a courtroom? The judge generally sits on a raised chair or bench. Adjacent to the bench are the witness stand and the desks where the court clerk and court reporter sit. The courtroom is divided into two parts. In front of the judge’s bench, there are the plaintiff, the defendant, and their respective counsel. A gallery is where people sit in who are the friends or family of the convict.

In NT times, the judge would come through the main door of the hall when the court was in session. James picturizes Christ about to push the doors open to walk into the judgment hall to begin the judgment. Everyone would stand up in fear as the judge walks in.

So James is saying a negative side to the coming of Christ the judge, recognize the Lord’s judgment. When the Lord comes that’s a time for judgment, that’s a time to evaluate your service. The useless things will be burned away and you will be rewarded for the good things.

So James here is saying not only do you hopefully anticipate the coming of the Lord but you recognize that when He comes it’s judgment time. And so he warns them not to murmur. Why? Because living under trials can create all kinds of frustration. Sometimes we get bitter in trials. People living in difficulty can become so frustrated that they lose patience not only with the persecutor but with everybody else around them. So James says don’t fall into this sin.

Now how you going to be patient in your trials? One, you’re going to remember that Christ is coming and that He’s going to reward you and bless you and take you to heaven…no more sorrow, no more trouble, no more pain, no more tears. And the Lord has allowed this trouble to come and you don’t want to let that trouble lead you to sin because if you do you may forfeit your reward when the judgment comes. So positively you look at the coming of Christ, negatively you look at the judgment. Then there are two emotions…one is hope and one is fear…that help us be patient.

3. Follow the Lord’s servants.

You’re going to through the suffering, you need somebody to look at as a model? Then take as an example the prophets, they suffered and they were patient. James 5:10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

James is identifying the great prophets of the OT up to John the Baptist. They are  classic examples of suffering affliction and of patience at the same time. They faced great difficulty, hostility, and rejection. Do you remember what Jesus said in behalf of the prophets in Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you.

The prophets are classic illustrations of those men who in speaking the truth suffered affliction and did it with patience. In Acts 7 we have the wonderful history of Stephen. And he goes on through this whole chapter to chronology the history of Israel and he says in Acts 7:52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. That day, they stoned Stephen to death.

Think about the OT men. Moses endured a stiff necked and rebellious people. David was hunted by Saul. Elijah’s life was sought by Ahab and Jezebel. Jeremiah was constantly persecuted and put into a pit. Ezekiel’s wife died in order to make a statement to the people what God was going to do to them. Daniel was deported, put in a den of lions. Hosea’s marriage was a disaster and was betrayed by his wife as an example to Israel. John the Baptist, beheaded for the Word of God

Hebrews 11:32-37 I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. They were patient and we need to be patient. They were patient in trials.

4. Understand the Lord’s Blessings.

James 5:11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.

The blessings come not to people who do great things, the blessings come to people who endure great trials. When James and John and their mother went to Jesus in Matthew 20 and said, “Can my boy sit on Your right and left hand in the Kingdom?” Jesus said, “Are you able to drink the cup that I shall drink?” To endure the terrible experience that I will endure? And unknowingly they said sure. They had no idea of what they were talking about. But the key ingredient is simply this, the ones who will receive the greatest glory in the world to come are the ones who endured the greatest suffering in the world. The greater the suffering the greater the reward.

So when you go through the trials, understand the Lord’s blessings. This will keep us patient.

5. Realize the Lord’s purpose.

James 5:11b As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.

Realize that God has a purpose in your trial. Job was one of the most popular stories of Jewish tradition. Job was a godly man. Satan came to God and said, “I don’t think You have one man on the earth that will be true to You.” He said, “Yes I do, Job.” And He said, “Satan, you can’t kill him but you can do just about everything else you want to him and I’ll prove that he’s a faithful man. I’ll show you that I can have a man who is totally committed to Me.”

Satan went after Job. Destroyed him in every way possible. Took away his family. Killed his children. Took away all his crops, his land, his possessions, everything he owned, gave him serious, severe disease. And in it all, Job never wavered. He endured. He complained now and then, mostly about his friends who were giving him foolish answers as to what was going on. His wife tried to get him to curse God and die, and he refused to do it.

Job went through the most incredible trial, the death of all of his children, the loss of all of his possessions, down to nothing and his body covered with horrible boils and could say, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him.” And he even and said, “The worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” God will never forsake me. He endured. He endured. Why? He saw the purpose of God. And at the end Job said: Job 42:5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

What did he mean by that? I never saw You in my good times as clearly as I saw You in my bad times.

Read: Why Trials?

What was God’s purpose with Job?

a. Test his faith. To prove it real.

b. Strengthen his faith. So that he would see God more clearly.

c. A proof to Satan. To prove to Satan that there was a man totally a lover of God no matter what it cost.

d. Increase Job’s blessings.

Job 42:10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.

Job 42:12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.

God has a purpose for our trials, so be patient. How do you know that? Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

So patience in any trial comes when we realize the Lord’s purpose. He’s doing something to us, He’s perfecting us. He’s getting ready to do greater things for us.

6. Understand the Lord’s character.

Do you ever get into a trial and you begin to question the character of God? Job really kind of asked those questions I suppose. “Lord, are You there? Anybody home up there?” God never answered anything. Those questions had to be in his mind.

Do you know when you are going through a trial what is God’s character? James 5:11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Consider the Lord’s character. Whatever you’re going through, He’s compassionate. Whatever you’re going through. God is tender, merciful and full of pity.

Lamentations 3:22-23 God is merciful. God is compassionate. God has many feelings. God is not just compassionate, He is multiplied compassion. God is tender and merciful. He carries our cares.

Conclusion: What are you going through? You going through the darkness of some trial, maybe a trial in your family, maybe a trial in your marriage, maybe you’re struggling as a husband and wife? And maybe weeping is enduring for a night and you’re looking for some joy in the morning. Maybe it’s a child that’s disappointed you. Maybe it’s a struggle financially. Maybe you have a disease. Maybe you’ve struggled with work. Many trials. Whatever they are, know this…suffering, trial, trouble, affliction, whether it’s physical, emotional, economic, whatever kind. How we going to deal with it? How to face trials?

How to face trials?

Well, be patient. Start living anticipating the Lord’s coming. And when you anticipate that, recognize that He comes as a judge and you don’t want to let those trials cause you to sin in some way that will be embarrassing to you when He comes, or suffer the loss of some reward. And then, remember the prophets. Consider the Lord’s blessing that the more you endure the greater the blessing. And then consider the Lord’s purpose that He has something in mind to perfect in you. And then lastly, remember the Lord’s character. He is compassionate. He understands and He will never let you have more than you can bear and you’ll always find His tender mercy along with it.

Read: Wisdom in Trials.