Happiness and Suffering

Tom Love posted a quote today on Facebook from James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  This directed me to go and review my sermon I preached on this passage eighteen years ago.  Below is a brief synopsis of that message which I hope will help those who read this.

james1_12The passage had two points to it as I dealt with verses 9-12, so let me first quote that whole section:

“But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

In James 1:9-11, I showed that trials are the great equalizer.  Rich and poor alike suffer in them and both are taught by God in them.  For the poor man, trials should remind him that God is in them and, that though poor here, he is rich in Christ.  For the rich man, trials are to remind him of the transitory nature of this life and its comforts and, in turn, long for heaven. Trials truly are the great equalizer for the Christian.  Therefore, when in the midst of them we must turn our focus from the trial to the purpose of the trial—”to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).

In James 1:12, the blessed (happy) one is the one who has learned well in the school of trials and suffering.  The happy position is not because he is free from suffering but because he has remained faithfully steadfast in them and through them.  These hardships functioned as a testing of his faith.  Is it genuine or not?  Many who are of “great faith” in times of plenty show themselves to be deniers of God in times of great hardship.  This is why I always watch people more carefully in their suffering.

Having remained persevering, this believer is given a good promise of a great reward — the crown of life.  It is a symbol of special honor or a badge of dignity.  But notice, also, how these people who endure so faithfully are characterized.  They are “God-lovers.”  And this is where we see the situation as it really is.  Those who love God shall suffer, but they know that this suffering is ordained of God and it is for their good.  The result is, because they love God, they endure.  And when it is all done God rewards them with true, eternal life.  Life with Him.  Life as life is truly supposed to be.

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