Do you ever get tired of the spin? Do you ever feel like everywhere you go and everywhere you look somebody is trying to sell you something? They are trying to spin something one way. You are never getting the full story. Whether it’s media or politics, to them trying to sell you Thompson’s Individual Stringettes, to a brand new vacuum cleaner for $19.99 and you’ll never have to get carpet again in your life!
It even starts to get down to the language that we use. John Ortberg has noted how our language has changed a little bit over the last several years. For instance, when a company fires people now they no longer say, “You’re fired.” That would sound way too harsh. They no longer “down size” because that seems negative. Companies are now calling it “right sizing.” We are “right sizing” the whole thing. Guys are no longer “bald,” they are “follicly challenged” or “comb free” as one guy said. It’s no longer “road kill” – it’s “maladaptive compressed life forms,” or in some states in America that will remain unnamed, “road kill” is dinner. It’s no longer “used cars”– now it’s “pre-owned certified vehicles.” Somebody pre-owned it for you. They broke it in for you. It’s not really used. It affects our language.
We see it on film and television as well. Reality TV – the big craze. Yet reality TV isn’t really reality TV. It’s still shot, edited, and spliced up to make a point and to get the basic themes of a story across. You can do an amazing amount with editing. We live in a culture where everything is edited, airbrushed, and cleaned up. You can do a lot with it.
Do you ever just get tired of the spin? Don’t clean it up. Don’t edit it. Just lay it out there and let me work with it from there. That’s exactly what James does in the Bible. He’s a no bull, no nonsense kind of guy.
He starts his book talking about trials and temptations.
of that.” It’s not pure joy at the trial, but it’s pure joy in the midst of the trial because you are rejoicing in who God is.
That is a lot easier to say than to do. It can be a real challenge to do in our lives. What kind of trials is James talking about here? What is he really talking about? Whatever trials you face, all across the spectrum, in the midst of it choose to rejoice because God will bring a great thing out of that trial and difficulty.
James is calling us to rejoice even in difficult times because God will do something great in the midst of it.
Paul says it this way in Romans 5:3, “Not only so but we also rejoice in our sufferings. Because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope; and hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.” There is this progression that Paul lays out here.
First of all he says we rejoice in our sufferings. That word for sufferings is an intense word. It means real pain. Real difficult pain may come into our lives. We persevere through it.
Suffering produces perseverance. If it wasn’t hard you wouldn’t have to persevere to get through it. Perseverance produces character.
Character is really only proven in the midst of difficult times. That’s where character is molded. You could even make the argument that unproven character isn’t character yet at all. Proven character is what character ultimately is.
Then there’s hope that comes out of that character that is formed into our lives. Through this hope we realize that we are never disappointed. God’s love on the other side of it will pull us through.
We don’t rejoice at the trial. We rejoice in the trial because through this hardship and difficulty God is doing a work in our lives to form us and mature us so we become the kind of people that He desires for us to be.
Over forty million Waldo books have been sold in twenty-eight countries all over the world. Don’t you wish the Waldo idea were yours? Here is Waldo so you know what he looks like. He has the goofy glasses and the striped shirt. Do you ever feel like when you are going through a trial or a difficulty in life that you are playing “Where’s Waldo?” with God? Do you ever find yourself in that moment when things are going right and you are wrestling with difficult times and you say,
“God, where are You?”
You don’t see Him. You pray and you wonder if your prayers are going above the ceiling. You come into church and you leave and still feel empty. You read your Bible but it doesn’t seem to be connecting. Do you ever feel like you are playing “Where’s Waldo?” with God? Where are You in the midst of my struggle?
the Bible declares that God is on every page of our lives. He’s there even when we can’t see Him. When we can’t feel Him or not sure that He’s there, He is. Sometimes when it doesn’t make sense, James says, we can ask for wisdom.
Look at how he puts it in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom who gives generously to all with out finding fault. It will be given to him.” If you lack wisdom, ask and God will provide. It says He will give wisdom without finding fault. God is loving and faithful. He WILL show you the way.