On Wednesday evening and again on Sunday morning, we began a new series of sermons studying the New Testament book of James. I am excited about this series because I really believe that James can help us.
James writes to a church that is under pressure, that is facing trials and challenges, and that is attempting to live faith-filled lives in the midst of those pressures and challenges. As I mentioned in the sermon (which you can listen to here) we can relate to the experience of living as pressured people.
The pressures we face are not angry mobs, or being dragged away for prosecution, as was the case for James and his fellow Christians. But, of course, we face pressures of many kinds; pressures from family, or work, or finances, or circumstances in the culture, pressures of failing health, or suffering loved ones, and all sorts of circumstances that are beyond our control that cause us to worry and to be tested.
James doesn’t compare the pressures that he faced with the pressures others face. He isn’t condescending or diminishing of others trials because our trials are not as severe as what some people face. Instead, he levels the playing field in verse 2 of chapter 1 and tells us, “My brothers and my sisters, whenever you face trails of any kind, consider it nothing but joy.”
So no matter what kind of trial, test, challenge, or struggle you are going through right now, James is writing to you! And James is going to tell us and show us in this book how we can live with joy as pressured people, rather than living as people who need all of the trials to be resolved before we can live with joy.
As we saw on Sunday, James teaches us there is something even better than an absence of suffering. There is something even better than not having any trials in our lives, something even more powerful than having “nothing to complain about.” The better thing, James tells us, is faith.
I am looking forward this summer to watching how our faith will transform the way we relate to the trails of our lives, and set us free to live in joy, even in the midst of hardship.
Grateful to be alongside you in the midst of our trials and pressures,