Dealing With the Evening News
Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't. Have you ever noticed how depressing the Evening News is? They tell you about 3 shootings, who is getting laid off, what building burned down, how many people were arrested, what damage was done by last night’s storm and how much it’s going to cost us to fix it. And that’s not a country song, that’s what’s on the news. Dealing with the evening news is tough.
In the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Alexander starts the day with gum in his hair, a sorry prize in his cereal (while his brother gets the great prize), a bad seat in the car pool, a rejection by his friends, a pitiful lunch in his bag, a trip to the dentist and lima beans for supper. Alexander punctuates every new trauma with the line: “It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
Ever have a day like that? A week…? A lifetime…? One of the variations of Murphy’s Law says: “Whatever can go wrong will go. If the bottom falls out, you can rest assured that the sides will tumble down on top of you too.”
How you can tell when it’s going to be a rotten day:
§ Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles.
§ Your twin forgets your birthday.
§ The bird singing outside your window is a buzzard.
§ You wake up and your braces are locked together.
§ Your income tax check bounces.
For Chippie, the problem began when his owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, & she turned to pick it up. She’d barely said “hello” when “sssopp!” Chippie got sucked in.
The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, & opened the bag. There was Chippie—still alive, but stunned.
Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do. She reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.
Poor chippie never knew what hit him.
A few days after the trauma, the reporter who’d initially written about the event contacted Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was recovering. “Well,” she replied, “Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore—he just sits and stares.”
Life comes at you fast and hard. And sometimes we find ourselves dealing with a difficult set of circumstances and all we feel like doing is sitting and staring.
James deals with the whole issue of tough times and difficult circumstances in James 1:2-12. In this passage we learn some principles about how to deal with the bad news we receive and the unexpected crises of everyday life.
What We Need To Know About Difficult Times
Difficult Times Are Inevitable (Vs 2)
§ James does not say “if you encounter various trials” but when.
§ We can never get away from them.
§ We often seem insulted when troubles arise in our life.
§ When problems arise we like to ask, “Why me? Why this? Why now?”
§ We often act as if for some reason we should be exempt from difficulties
§ Difficulties are not electives, but a part of the core curriculum of life.
Difficult Times are Unpredictable (Vs. 2)
§ These temptations and trials happen in our life unexpectedly indicated by the word encounter. They come uninvited and unexpected.
§ There is no way for us to prepare for them in advance
§ James used “Various” to describe our difficulties - a word meaning “multicolored” because of the intensity and variety of problems.
§ They may involve the pain of a lingering illness or an untimely death.
§ A broken marriage or a short-circuited romance.
§ A rebellious child or a loved one with a destructive addiction, or lingering Depression
§ Problems in business or an unexpected financial reversal or the loss of a job
§ Sometimes they come one at a time and sometimes in droves.
§ Our trials are many-colored indeed.
Difficult Times are not Fatal
§ Our Difficulties have a Purpose
§ In times of trouble we often feel abandoned by God.
§ But James says that trials are the evidence that God is at work.
§ Paul agreed, Corinthians 4:17 - For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
§ Trouble is working for us not against us.
§ James addresses trials in these verses – They are a testing to find the nature of an object
§ That’s what hardships and difficulties are designed to accomplish in our life.
§ They reveal to us the nature of our faith. They reveal our strong and weak areas.
§ It’s a reality check to prevent us from assuming that we are something we’re not.
§ The aim of testing is not to destroy or afflict, but to purge and refine.
§ The specific purpose is that “the testing of your faith produces endurance” (v. 3).
§ This is the ability of standing fast under pressure, with a staying power that turns adversities into opportunities.
§ When God’s fingers squeeze they hurt. But they shape and mold us to mature faith.
§ James tells us in Vs. 3 “knowing this...” This is an anchor and a comfort.
§ God is not punishing he is purifying our faith.
§ He is attempting to produce Christ likeness in me.
What We Need To Do During Difficult Times
James doesn’t offer a mindless exhortation to just “grin and bear it”, nor does he call for fatalistic resignation. He makes some suggestions for dealing successfully with difficulties:
Get Off The Roller Coaster
§ Life is difficult. Suffering is inevitable. But misery is an option!
§ Most of the time we allow our feelings to dominate us when we experience difficulties.
§ James tells us when trials hit to Consider it all joy. Consider means to command with authority, to lead, to rule, command. Take control over your thoughts and emotions.
§ But this is an action one must do for himself. We have to make the effort on our own, no one else can do it for us. It has to be a conscious decision we make in our mind.
§ James is dealing with the attitude that we need have if we are to benefit from our trials.
§ To consider it all joy in the midst of our trials is to respond with a deliberate, intelligent appraisal of our situation.
§ James does not say that trials are a joy to go through, He did not say that Christians should be joyous about their trials, but joyous in their trials.
§ It Is Attitude That Determines Outcome and…This means that we are to be in command of our attitude.
§ It’s not what happens to me, but what happens in me that makes the difference.
Refuse To Be A Martyr
In the previous verses James tells us to control our attitude and react with joy when things go wrong in our life. That is certainly not normal. So how do I respond in that way?
- The first thing to do is recognize that I don’t have what it takes in myself.
- Every single person lacks the wisdom and the ability to control our attitude in adversity.
- So I must recognize that I need God’s wisdom – otherwise I will continually make bad choices under pressure.
- I can rest assured that the way God would have me react is far different from my own inclination.
- With God’s wisdom every trial becomes an opportunity to operate at a new level in my life.
- Such wisdom is not given automatically. Believers must “ask of God” that is pray for God to provide divine insights on how to handle the testing.
- God does not promise that the wisdom given will cause the outcome of the trial to conform to a believer’s will, but it will accomplish His purpose in the one being tested.
- Many of us know that suffering comes to perfect us. But how do we put that knowledge into practice in a specific situation of testing?
- What do we do? Do we stay where we are, or do we move elsewhere, do we look for release or do we expect God to fulfill us where we are? What do we do?
- James says, in a situation like that, ask God! He will let you know what to do. He will let you know how to react in the particular situation. You can “count” on Him.
- We Were Not Intended to Go Through Trials Alone and….We don’t have to…
- When I need wisdom to make a choice or to respond to a situation, he will give me what I need, and then some.
Commit to the Solution (Vs. 6-8)
- This is not some ritual that I hope will work. It is a response from my heart with conviction.
- It’s not like I pray for God’s wisdom and then treat it as one of my options.
- To James faith is a commitment to the will of God.
- I’ll never be able to face my problems with certainty as long as I’m not committed to obedience.
- Double mindedness means a man with two affections – one for God and one for the world.
- The double-minded person is unwilling to commit to God.
- Each storm of opposition threatens his loyalty to God.
- When God doesn’t operate on our schedule, or his plan doesn’t align with ours, we seek for another plan.
- Are you willing to receive whatever he gives you?
- Maybe you lack wisdom, because you’re not sure if you want God’s answer.
- Would you make a commitment to obedience, not even knowing what God wants you to do?
- Will you say to him, “Lord, I commit myself to do what you want?”
- If you are willing to make this commitment, you will find all the grace you need to handle the demands of your life, and God’s wisdom will be available to you.
Don’t’ Short-Circuit the Process (Vs. 4)
§ The word “perfect” means: “brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness.”
§ The word “complete” is used of a body without blemish or defect. It means to be complete in all respects.”
§ We can short circuit everything God is trying to accomplish.
§ We can begin complaining, rebelling, by claiming unfairness.
§ We can lose heart or give up under pressure. We can indulge in self-pity.
§ If that happens we negate what God is trying to do in our life. We have to see the big picture.
§ So quit fighting your trial. Let your trial/terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day do the thing it was designed to do—to bring you to perfection, lacking nothing.
§ It is designed to make you the person you and God want you to be.
Has your day, week or life been a series of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad incidents?
If they are not of your own making, they could be the hand of a loving but persistent Father, making you what you long to be.
We started this message talking about the evening news and how depressing it can be. This morning I don’t want you to leave depressed, I want you to know the truth about your trials. So here is some good news you should know about whatever trial you’re facing this morning.
Get off the Roller Coaster, Refuse to be a martyr, Commit to the Solution, Don’t short-circuit the process.