Amplified: Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: My brothers, reckon it all joy whenever you become involved in all kinds of testings,
ESV: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds
KJV: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
ICB: My brothers, you will have many kinds of troubles. But when these things happen, you should be very happy
Montgomery: My brothers, when you are beset by various temptations, count it all joy,
NET: My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials
NLT: Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Be constantly rejoicing. Consider it a matter for unadulterated joy whenever you fall into the midst of variegated trials which surround you, (Eerdmans)
Weymouth: Reckon it nothing but joy, my brethren, whenever you find yourselves hedged in by various trials.
Young's Literal: All joy count it, my brethren, when ye may fall into temptations manifold;
CONSIDER IT ALL JOY, MY BRETHREN, WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER VARIOUS TRIALS: Pasan charan egesasthe, (2PAMM) adelphoi mou, hotan peirasmois peripesete (2PAAS) poikilois: (Jas 1:12; Mt 5:10, 11, 12; Lk 6:22,23; Ac 5:41; Ro 8:17,18,35, 36, 37; 2Co 12:9; 2Co 12:10; Php 1:29; 2:17; Col 1:24; He 10:34; 1Pe 4:13, 14, 15, 16)
Related Resource: See notes on 1Cor 10:13 for comments on trials/temptations.
Although it is a paraphrase, Phillips really strikes the right chord rendering it…
Notice that James does not offer thanksgiving for his readers or a prayer for their needs, and in fact no where suggests that James necessarily had personal contact with his readers. So without fanfare he jumps the difficult topic of trials, even beginning with a command!
Consider it all joy - The literal rendering emphasizes the call to joy even more pointedly -- "All joy count it"! On the "surface", this command is one of the most difficult in all the Bible in my opinion. It ranks up there with "in everything give thanks". And yet we know that God is not trying to frustrate us or defeat us but to conform us to the image of His Son and in so doing He wastes no circumstance, no adversity, no affliction, no sickness, no success, no failure, etc, in achieving His end, which in fact He will achieve (cp Phil 1:6-note, 1Pe 5:10-note). God never commands to do His will in any area, that He does not also supply us the grace and power necessary to fulfill it (2Cor 12:9, 10, Phil 4:11, 12, 13-notes).
James is not saying the trials are joyful in themselves but are a means to an end which is joyful. In other words, joy in trials comes from knowing that the outcome will be good. It's as if while in the trial, we have a future focused mindset, because we know that the trial in the hands of the good and loving Potter is not without value regarding the sculpting of our character. We must lay hold of this truth that a loving Father allows (sometimes sends) trials in our lives, not to impair us but to improve us. Not to destroy us but to develop us. In other words, our Father takes us into His darkroom to develop our character not destroy it. In his explanation of why believers should regard not think lightly of God's discipline, the writer of Hebrews reminds of the promised "fruit" writing that…
The work of God transforms us
Several NT passages speak of the value of "trials" of various sorts…
Consider (2233)(hegeomai from ágo = to lead) primarily signifies to lead and then to consider. The picture is that of one leading his or her mind through a reasoning process to arrive at a conclusion. Considering (hegeomai) involves careful thought, not quick decision. It involves a conscious judgment resting on deliberate weighing of the facts. It denotes deliberate and careful judgment stemming from external proof, not subjective judgment based on feelings. Hegeomai and calls for a mental evaluation adopted as the result of due deliberation, the conscious acceptance of a definite inner attitude. Hegeomai is also a mathematical term which says "Think about it and come to a conclusion."
The aorist imperative is a command calling for action, and can even convey a sense of urgency. It is also a command because it is not our natural response to trials. They are to regard their experiences of testing as the ground for all joy, not just part joy! But remember that God never commands us to do anything which He does not enable or empower.
Peter gives a command which is similar to that of James, writing that…
In a similar exhortation, Paul writes…
And Paul practiced what he preached, for even though unfairly thrown in prison…
Hiebert writes that
The paradox of "all joy in trials" is not normal but supernormal. In other words, joy in trials is not a natural reaction but must be a supernatural reaction. Ultimately, it seems to me, that the man or woman who is most able to obey this command is the one who is walking by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit. As the believer yields to the Spirit, making the determined choice of his will, he or she is enabled to manifest joy (Galatians 5:22-note). For example, recall the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews to continually (present tense) fix…
Poole comments that we are to…
Hegeomai - 28x in 21v in the NT - Mt. 2:6; Lk. 22:26; Acts 7:10; 14:12; 15:22; 26:2; 2Co. 9:5; Phil. 2:3, 6, 25; 3:7, 3:8; 1Th 5:13; 2Th 3:15; 1Ti 1:12; 6:1; Heb. 10:29; 11:11, 26; 13:7, 17, 24; James. 1:2; 2Pet. 1:13; 2:13; 3:9, 15.
Hegeomai in the NAS is translated = chief(1), consider(3), considered(2), considering(1), count(4), counted(1), esteem(1),governor(1), leader(1), leaders(3), leading(1), led(1), regard(5), regarded(1), Ruler(1), thought(2).
Day by day and with each passing moment,
All joy - "Whole joy", unmixed joy, without admixture of sorrow, not just "some joy" along with much grief! How is this possible? The Spirit produces His joy in us (Gal 5:22-notes). The translations render it - wholly joyful (Amp), pure joy (ISV, Moffatt), complete joy (Berkley), nothing but joy (NET), unadulterated joy (Wuest), highest joy (Grotius)
John MacArthur explains that all joy…
Commenting on consider it all joy, Epp remarks that…
Note that James is not commanding believers to enjoy their trials which in themselves are grievous not joyful. If this were his intent, James would be calling for a stoic like resignation, in which the one simply "grins and bears" the trial. To the contrary, James is saying that believers should (and can) see their trials not so much as obstacles but as opportunities, which when "leavened" with God's grace, prove to be "fertilizer" for growth in Christ-likeness. Trials when seen with eyes of faith (cp He 11:1-note; 2Co 5:7) can then be accepted as God's tools for producing beneficial results and can then be occasions for rejoicing. As an aside, James is not a masochist and is not calling for us to seek out or needlessly rush into trials.
One thinks in fact of Jesus' words that we are to pray "lead us not into testing (temptation)" (Mt 6:13-note) regarding which Mayor comments…
Cole writes that…
COUNT IT JOY
Count it joy, and never be discouraged,
Secular dictionaries define joy as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or the emotion evoked by the prospect of possessing what one desires. The world's definition of joy is therefore virtually synonymous with the definition of happiness, for both of these "emotions" are dependent on what "happens" The world's joy is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. The Bible defines joy as a gift of God, a fruit of His Spirit, which is independent of circumstances.
Certainly there is joy in human life, such as joy when one experiences a victory (" We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions." Ps 20:5 Spurgeon's comment) or reaps a bountiful harvest (see Is 9:3), but more often the Bible speaks of joy in a spiritual sense. For example, Nehemiah declared to the down in the mouth (not very filled with joy) Jews that "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh 8:10). Similarly, David pleaded with God to “restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” (Ps 51:12 Spurgeon's Comment). It is not surprising that joy and rejoicing are found most frequently in the Psalms (about 80 references) and the Gospels (about 40 references).
Joy is the deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the heart of the person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. It is not an experience that comes from favorable circumstances but even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe as Jesus taught His disciples declaring…
Believers have the Resident Source of joy within for as as Paul teaches
Emotional fluctuations cannot disturb this Source of joy. Note Paul’s statement of this confidence (Phil 3:20-note). Joy not only does not come from favorable human circumstances but is sometimes greatest when those circumstances are the most painful and severe.
Warren Wiersbe defines joy as
that inward peace and sufficiency that is not affected by outward circumstances. (A case in point is Paul’s experience recorded in Phil 4:10, 11, 12, 13ff-see notes) This "holy optimism" keeps him going in spite of difficulties.
(He adds) Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to ‘count it all joy!’ If we live only for the present and forget the future, the trials will make us bitter, not better (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor or Logos)
The Baker Encyclopedia adds that joy is a…
My brethren (Jas 1:2; 2:1, 14; 3:1, 10, 12; 5:12, 19) - He is referring to true believers addressing them with a feeling of warmth and love, as well as identification, which would assure them that they are not alone in their trials. He later refers to them as "beloved brethren" again emphasizing his pastoral affection for them (Jas 1:16, 19, 2:5). As an aside brethren does not exclude "sistern" or sisters in Christ - "my brothers and sisters" is therefore quite appropriate.
Poole writes that James uses my brethren…
Hiebert adds that my brethren denotes James'…
When you encounter… - Note carefully James does not say "if" but "when" referring not to possibility but to inevitability! Trials are not an elective, but a required course in the "school of Christ"! Trials then are an expected/guaranteed element of the normal Christian life, and so, beloved, as Peter says
To be sure, most of us are either in a trial, just coming out of one or on the verge of entering a new one. Such is the common lot of mankind (cp 1Cor 10:13 [see note] "common to man").
Commenting on "when" Hiebert adds that…
Steven Cole makes the important point that…
Notice that while the world says "consider it joy when you escape trials", James says "No, consider it joy when you are in the midst of trials!"
The Psalmist writes that…
Encounter (4045) (peripipto from peri = around + pipto = to fall, to fall into, to fall down) means literally to fall around, and so to fall in with or among (trials, Jas 1:2, robbers Lk 10:30). In one NT context peripipto means to mover toward something and strike against it (Acts 27:41).
This verb can also convey the sense of falling into something suddenly or unexpectedly -- isn't that what most trials do? They "jump" on us and catch us off guard! I like the picture presented by the Amplified version "whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations." The picture is one encompassed by these trials, something with which we can all readily identify!
Friberg writes that peripateo means to…
Some secular uses of peripipto include as a description of ships meeting by chance at sea (Herodotus), to encounter unjust judgments, to be caught in one's own snare (Herodotus), to fall on one side (Plutarch).
Hiebert adds that peripipto suggests…
Peripipto is used only 3 times in the NT…
There are 4 uses in the Septuagint (Da 2:9 plus the 3 uses below)…
Matthew Poole comments that peripipto conveys the picture…
Samuel Rutherford emphasizes the certainty of trials writing that
The Puritan Thomas Watson agreed writing…
To those servants of God whom He purposes to use in a larger, greater way, many trials are allowed to come (they are necessary), for
J C Ryle explains that
Matthew Henry adds
John Newton describes these trials as like
J. Vernon McGee in his pithy style adds
Warren Wiersbe adds that the encouraging note that
Cole comments that…
Various (4164) (poikilos) means existence in various kinds or modes, diversified, manifold, variegated, many colored. Poikilos was used to describe the skin of a leopard, the different-colored veining of marble or a robe embroidered with many different colors and thence passes into the meaning of changeful, diversified, applied to the changing months or the variations of a strain of music. Poikilos stresses not the number of trials but the great variety or diversity of the trials, "multicolored", like Joseph's coat of many colors (Ge 37:3 - where Lxx for "many" = poikilos).
In Mt 4:24 poikilos is used of the great variety of torments of body and mind among the people whom Jesus healed. In He 2:4 poikilos describes the variety of the manifestations of God's power in connection with the preaching of the gospel.
Various trials would include those common to all men as well as those related to the fact that they are believers (cp 2Ti 3:12)
Peter writes to believers experiencing fiery trials…
But note that God's provision for our "multicolored" trials is "multicolored" grace…
God will certainly prune us but never without purpose, for as Vance Havner said…
Guy King gives an interesting illustration of manifold grace from manifold trials (temptations)…
Poikilos gives a vivid picture of the diversity and varied aspects and appearances of the trials that affect believers, not their number, which is left to be inferred.
Trials (3986)(peirasmos from peirazo = to make trial of, try, tempt, prove in either a good or bad sense) describes first the idea of putting to the test and then refers to the tests or pressures that come in order to discover a person’s nature or the quality of some thing. Think of yourself as a tube of "spiritual toothpaste". Pressure brings out what's really on the inside!
Note that some translations render peirasmos with the word temptations (ASV, TLB, Wesley, Young's Literal, Amplified, Darby, KJV), but the context does not suggest that it is being used in the sense of solicitation to evil or temptation to sin (as in Jas 1:13,14) for one would hardly be urged to rejoice in such a setting.
Hiebert - The noun peirasmos denotes a testing being directed toward an end, to discover the nature or quality of the object or person tested. The verbal form peirazo denotes the action of putting something or someone to the test. Such a test may be applied with either a good or bad intention. In a good sense, the test may be applied in order to demonstrate the strength or good quality of the object tested. When the testing is applied with the evil aim that the object will be led to fail under testing, then the thought of temptation comes in. Since it is a melancholy fact that men often break down under the testings of life, the term peirasmos is often used with the meaning of temptation, a solicitation to evil. Under either meaning, the term "has always the idea of probation associated with it."' Both the noun and the verb are rare in secular Greek,' but they are common in the Septuagint and the New Testament. Since the Scriptures are concerned with moral values, the concept of testing is an essential one in the Bible. In human experience, the two aspects of testing and temptation may be closely related. That which is intended as a test may in fact become a temptation for the person tested because of his inner response to the situation. Well aware of this close connection in actual experience, James deals with both aspects of peirasmoi in this opening section of his epistle. In Jas 1:2-12 he deals with the nature and use of external tests that come to the believer in daily life, while in Jas 1:13-16-note he deals with the experience of temptation to evil. In Jas 1:17,18-note he shows that God's beneficent activities toward the believer establish that He cannot be associated with peirasmos in the sense of solicitation to evil. God does test the faith of His people, but He does not allure them to evil. (Ibid)
Barclay - Peirasmos is trial or testing directed towards an end, and the end is that he who is tested should emerge stronger and purer from the testing. (Ed comment: However this word can mean tempt, which is what Satan does - he desires that we emerge weaker and less pure as a result of succumbing to the peirasmos. See explanation in following paragraph). The corresponding verb peirazein, which the King James Version usually translates to tempt, has the same meaning. The idea is not that of seduction into sin but of strengthening and purifying (Ed: But just the opposite effect if Satan peirazo's us). For instance, a young bird is said to test (peirazein) its wings. The Queen of Sheba was said to come to test (peirazein) the wisdom of Solomon. God was said to test (peirazein) Abraham, when he appeared to be demanding the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1). When Israel came into the Promised Land, God did not remove the people who were already there. He left them so that Israel might be tested (peirazein) in the struggle against them (Jdg 2:22-note, Jdg 3:1, 4-note, cf Ex 15:25, 16:4, 20:20, Dt 13:3)(Ed: Actually man of the OT uses of peirazo are of Israel testing/tempting God!. Ex 17:2, 7, Nu 14:22, ) The experiences in Israel were tests which went to the making of the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 7:19). (James 1- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)
Peirasmos connotes trouble or something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someone’s life. Trials rightly faced are in fact beneficial to the saint as Peter (and James 1 explain), but wrongly received and processed can "evolve" into temptations to commit sins. It is axiomatic that Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us while God tests us to bring out the best for He ever seeks to make us more like His Son.
It is not surprising to see James use the related verb peirazo (to test or to tempt) to describe temptations (Jas 1:13, 14-note). As most believers have experienced, trials which God allows too often become sources of temptation to sin. If we choose to react to the trial based on feelings and/or emotions, it is likely that our fallen flesh will deceive and impel us to react inappropriately. However, if we act (contrast with react) in faith (in God - His sovereignty [He is in control - Da 4:35-note, Ps 115:3-note, Ps 135:6-note, Isa 46:10, 11], in His faithfulness [He won't test us beyond what we can bear - He knows our "load limits"! - 1Cor 10:13-note], in and by His grace [His power is perfected in our weakness, 2Co 12:9, 10-note], in His promises [momentary affliction will yield eternal glory beyond comparison - 2Co 4:16, 17, 18-note], etc) then the trials instead of seducing us to sin, strengthen us to grow more like the Savior (cp 2Pe 3:18-note).
Jamieson - Every possible trial to the child of God is a masterpiece of strategy of the Captain of his salvation for his good.
Hort - The Christian must expect to be jostled by trials on the Christian way.
Barclay - ll kinds of experiences will come to us. There will be the test of the sorrows and the disappointments which seek to take our faith away. There will be the test of the seductions which seek to lure us from the right way. There will be the tests of the dangers, the sacrifices, the unpopularity which the Christian way must so often involve. But
they are not meant to make us fall;
they are meant to make us soar.
They are not meant to defeat us;
they are meant to be defeated.
They are not meant to make us weaker;
they are meant to make us stronger.
Therefore we should not bemoan them;
we should rejoice in them.
The Christian is like the athlete. The heavier the course of training he undergoes, the more he is glad, because he knows that it is fitting him all the better for victorious effort. As Browning said, we must "welcome each rebuff that turns earth's smoothness rough," for every hard thing is another step on the upward way. (James 1 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)
Erwin Lutzer - God often puts us in situations that are too much for us so that we will learn that no situation is too much for Him.
Notice that James does not say that the trial will necessarily "feel good", and in fact it usually does not, which emphasizes the importance of acting based on faith rather than reacting based on feelings/emotions.
Matthew Henry - God's design in afflicting His people is their probation (Ed: the act of proving or testing), not their destruction; their advantage, not their ruin.
The Puritan saint Richard Sibbes rightly said that
Spurgeon aptly adds that…
John Calvin adds that these necessary trials…
Why should I complain
ARE YOU IN THE
Ponder these principles if you are being tested even as you read these notes. Trust God and His Word of Truth and Life. Choose to act, not to react.
Or as J C Ryle once said…
Spurgeon explains the great value of his personal trials writing…
John Macarthur has an excellent illustration and explanation of the purpose of "trials" (temptations). He writes
William MacDonald writes that…
Amy Carmichael - The best training is to learn to accept everything as it comes, as from Him whom our soul loves. The tests are always unexpected things, not great things that can be written up, but the common little rubs of life, silly little nothings, things you are ashamed of minding (at all). Yet they can knock a strong man over and lay him very low. (Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark). (Below is her convicting poem)…
Never be sad or desponding,
(1). Prove our faith genuine - so when a believer comes through a trial still trusting the Lord, he is assured that his faith is genuine
(5). Are multicolored, of various "sizes, shapes and colors" (Ja 1:2) but in (1Pe 4:10-note "manifold" = poikilos) Peter says God provides multicolored grace for multicolored trials! There is sufficient grace (2Cor 12:9) to match every trial and there is no trial without sufficient grace.
(6). Ultimately will bring praise, glory and honor to God. There is great comfort for suffering saints in knowing that their sufferings are neither purposeless nor fruitless. On the other hand, the sufferings of the ungodly are only a foretaste of the pangs they will endure forever.
(7). Will not be fully understood as to their eternal significance until the revelation of Jesus Christ (1Cor 2:14)
Times of affliction are usually gaining times to God's people.-Joseph Alleine
Adversity introduces a man to himself. -Anon.
Affliction is God's shepherd dog to drive us back to the fold.-Anon.
Affliction is the school of faith.-Anon.
Affliction, like the iron-smith, shapes as it smites.-Anon.
Afflictions are often God's best blessings sent in disguise.-Anon.
Crosses are ladders that lead to heaven.-Anon.
Fire is the test of gold, adversity of strong men.-Anon.
Our great Teacher writes many a bright lesson on the blackboard of affliction.-Anon.
Some hearts, like evening primroses, open more beautifully in the shadows of life.-Anon.
The Christian justifies tribulation. Ten thousand times ten thousand saints… are ready to witness that their most manifest and rapid spiritual growth is traceable to their periods of trial.-Anon.
The darker the night, the brighter the stars; the hotter the fire, the purer the gold.-Anon.
The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.-Anon.
The hammer shatters glass, but forges steel.-Anon.
The more a tree of righteousness is shaken by the wind, the more it is rooted in Christ.-Anon.
The water that dashes against the wheel keeps the mill going; so trial keeps grace in use and motion.-Anon.
Trial is the school of trust.-Anon.
Where there are no trials in life, there are no triumphs.-Anon.
The purpose of the tests of life are to make, not break us.-Maltbie Babcock
Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the new.-Francis Bacon
Night brings out stars as sorrow shows us truths.-Gamaliel Bailey
Suffering so unbolts the door of the heart that the Word hath easier entrance.-Richard Baxter
Weakness and pain helped me to study how to die; that set me on studying how to live.-Richard Baxter
The brook would lose its song if you removed the rocks.-Fred Beck
Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.-Henry Ward Beecher
For the Christian, trials and temptations are not only means for proving his faith but for improving his life.-John Blanchard
I have learned more from life's trials than from its triumphs.-John Blanchard
The Christian's midnight is brighter than the sinner's noon.-John Blanchard
The trials of life are meant to make us better, not bitter.-John Blanchard
Affliction is the shaking of the torch that it may blaze the brighter.-Horatius Bonar
We have got more from Paul's prison-house than from his visit to the third heavens.-Andrew Bonar
It is the usual way of providence with me that blessings come through several iron gates.-Thomas Boston
Afflictions are blessings.-Thomas Brooks
Afflictions are but as a dark entry into our Father's house.-Thomas Brooks
Afflictions are the mother of virtue.-Thomas Brooks
Affliction is an excellent comment upon the Scriptures.
Afflictions ripen the saint's graces.-Thomas Brooks
Afflictions, they are but our Father's goldsmiths who are working to add pearls to our crowns.-Thomas Brooks
God's house of correction is his school of instruction.-Thomas Brooks
Stars shine brightest in the darkest night. Torches are the better for beating. Grapes come not to the proof till they come to the press. Spices smell sweetest when pounded. Young trees root the faster for shaking. Vines are the better for bleeding. Gold looks the brighter for scouring; and juniper smells sweeter in the fire.-Thomas Brooks
The grand design of God in all the afflictions that befall his people is to bring them nearer and closer to himself.-Thomas Brooks
The vinegar of adversity quickens our graces.-Thomas Brooks
As threshing separates the wheat from the chaff, so does affliction purify virtue.-Richard E. Burton
The Lord uses his flail of tribulation to separate the chaff from the wheat.-John Bunyan
Thou art beaten that thou mayest be better.-John Bunyan
Afflictions ought ever to be estimated by their end.John Calvin
In the darkness of our miseries the grace of God shines more brightly.-John Calvin
Our afflictions prepare us for receiving the grace of God.-John Calvin
Our faith is really and truly tested only when we are brought into very severe conflicts, and when even hell itself seems opened to swallow us up.-John Calvin
The more we are afflicted by adversities, the more surely our fellowship with Christ is confirmed!-John Calvin
Whatever poison Satan produces, God turns it into medicine for his elect.-John Calvin
The staying power of our faith is neither demonstrated nor developed until it is tested by suffering.-D. A. Carson
There is a certain kind of maturity that can be attained only through the discipline of suffering.-D. A. Carson
The saint knows not why he suffers as he does, yet he comprehends with a knowledge that passes knowledge that all is well.-Oswald Chambers
The brightest crowns that are worn in heaven have been tried, and smelted, and polished, and glorified through the furnace of tribulation.-E. H. Chapin
We often learn more under the rod that strikes us, than under the staff that comforts us.-Stephen Charnock
Affliction makes saints eminent.-Chrysostom
In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends.-Churton Collins
It is not until we have passed through the furnace that we are made to know how much dross there is in our composition.-C. C. Colton
Calamity is the perfect glass wherein we truly see and know ourselves.-William Davenant
There is no education like adversity.-Benjamin Disraeli
Fiery trials make golden Christians.-William Dyer
Eminent virtue always shows brightest in the fire. Pure gold shows its purity chiefly in the furnace.-Jonathan Edwards
Great men are made greater by their misfortunes.-Minucius Felix
Afflictions… are as necessary for our waftage to heaven as water is to carry the ship to her port.-William Gurnall
God's wounds cure; sin's kisses kill.-William Gurnall
God sometimes snuffs out our brightest candle that we may look up to his eternal stars.-Vance Havner
It takes the grindstone to sharpen the axe.-Vance Havner
It is better to drink of deep griefs than to taste shallow pleasures.-William Hazlitt
The Lord doesn't take us into deep water to drown us but to develop us.-Iry Hedstrom
Afflictions are continued no longer than till they have done their work.-Matthew Henry
Afflictions are sent for this end, to bring us to the throne of grace, to teach us to pray and to make the word of God's grace precious to us.-Matthew Henry
Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.-Matthew Henry
If we cry to God for the removal of the oppression and affliction we are under, and it is not removed, the reason is not because the Lord's hand is shortened or his ear heavy, but because the affliction has not done its work.-Matthew Henry
It has been the advantage of God's people to be afflicted.-Matthew Henry
Many are taught with the briars and thorns of affliction that would not learn otherwise.-Matthew Henry
Of the many that are afflicted and oppressed, few get the good they might get by their affliction. It should drive them to God, but how seldom is this the case!-Matthew Henry
Outward losses drive good people to their prayers, but bad people to their curses.-Matthew Henry
Sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions.-Matthew Henry
Sometimes God teaches us effectually to know the worth of mercies by the want of them and whets our appetite for the means of grace by cutting us short in those means.-Matthew Henry
The injuries men do us should drive us to God, for to him we may commit our cause.-Matthew Henry
Let prosperity be as oil to the wheels of obedience and affliction as wind to the sails of prayer.-Philip Henry
Affliction is the medicine of the mind.-John P. K. Henshaw
The great blows of God are designed to make a man stand up.-John Hercus
Afflictions are the cause of eternal glory. Not the meritorious cause, but still the procuring cause.-Charles Hodge
Afflictions are unavoidable; they occupy a large proportion of life, and of godliness.-William Jay
The Christian is more formed from his trials than from his enjoyments.-William Jay
As the wicked are hurt by the best things, so the godly are bettered by the worst.-William Jenkyn
Trouble is only opportunity in work clothes.-Henry J. Kaiser
Only in the hot furnace of affliction do we as Christians let go of the dross to which, in our foolishness, we ardently cling.-David Kingdon
This school of trial best discloses the hidden vileness of the heart and the vast riches of a Saviour's grace.-Henry Law
Christian people are generally at their best when they are in the furnace of affliction and being persecuted and tried.-D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Trials and tribulations are very good for us in that they help us to know ourselves better than we knew ourselves before.-D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Affliction is the Christian's theologian.-Martin Luther
I never knew the meaning of God's Word until I came into affliction.-Martin Luther
No man, without trials and temptations, can attain a true understanding of the Holy Scriptures.-Martin Luther
We should never see the stars if God did not sometimes take away the day.-Kenneth Macrae
God's children never gain so much honour as in their troubles.-Thomas Manton
Trial is not only to approve, but to improve.-Thomas Manton
Affliction is the whetstone of prayer and obedience.-Edward Marbury
Trouble is the structural steel that goes into character-building.-Douglas Meador
A dark hour makes Jesus bright.-Robert Murray M'Cheyne
Affliction is the school in which great virtues are acquired, in which great characters are formed.-Hannah More
No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.-William Penn
One breath of paradise will extinguish all the adverse winds of earth.-A. W. Pink
Afflictions often possess remarkable power to remind us of our sins.-William S. Plumer
It is a blessed thing when our trials cure our earnest love for things that perish.-William S. Plumer
By afflictions God is spoiling us of what otherwise might have spoiled us—when he makes the world too hot for us to hold, we let it go.-John Powell
The hiding places of men are discovered by affliction.-S. I. Prime
I have never met with a single instance of adversity which I have not in the end seen was for my good—I have never heard of a Christian on his deathbed complaining of his affliction.-Alexander M. Proudfit
Afflictions clarify the soul.-Francis Quarles
Afflictions are a fan in God's hand to separate between good and evil men.-Maurice Roberts
No enemy of Christ's cause… has it in his competence to inflict so much as one naked blow on the Christian or on the church. Every blow is parried for our good. Every curse aimed at us is sweetened into a blessing. Every poisonous dart is deflected. Every wound is healed. Every accusation is silenced.-Maurice Roberts
Grace grows best in the winter.-Samuel Rutherford
Affliction is a searching wind which strips the leaves off the trees and brings to light the bird's nests.-J. C. Ryle
In the resurrection morning… we shall thank God for every storm.-J. C. Ryle
Let us settle it firmly in our minds that there is a meaning, a needs-be and a message from God in every sorrow that falls upon us.-J. C. Ryle
Prosperity is a great mercy, but adversity is a greater one, if it brings us to Christ.-J. C. Ryle
There are no lessons so useful as those learned in the school of affliction.-J. C. Ryle
The tools that the great Architect intends to use much are often kept long in the fire, to temper them and fit them for work.-J. C. Ryle
Trials are intended to make us think, to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, to drive us to our knees.-J. C. Ryle
Trials are the resistances God gives us to strengthen our spiritual muscles.-George Seevers
Misfortune is an occasion to demonstrate character.-Seneca
No one appears to me more pitiable than the man who has never known misfortune.-Seneca
We become wiser by adversity.-Seneca
Afflictions should be the spiritual wings of the soul.-Richard Sibbes
After conversion we need bruising, to see that we live by mercy.-Richard Sibbes
Poverty and affliction take away the fuel that feeds pride.-Richard Sibbes
When the afflictions of Christians are doubled, then they are commonly most humbled.-Richard Sibbes
As Jacob was blessed and halted both at one time, so a man may be blessed and afflicted both together.-Henry Smith
A true Christian's losses are gains in another shape.-C. H. Spurgeon
I am afraid that all the grace that I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable. What do I not owe to the crucible and the furnace, the bellows that have blown up the coals, and the hand which has thrust me into the heat?-C. H. Spurgeon
I am sure I have derived more real benefit and permanent strength and growth in grace, and every precious thing, from the furnace of affliction, than I have ever derived from prosperity.-C. H. Spurgeon
I bear my witness that the worst days I have ever had have turned out to be my best days.-C. H. Spurgeon
I can bear my personal testimony that the best piece of furniture that I ever had in the house was a cross. I do not mean a material cross; I mean the cross of affliction and trouble.-C. H. Spurgeon
I owe more than I can tell to the graver's tool, and I feel the lines of its cutting even now.-C. H. Spurgeon
In shunning a trial we are seeking to avoid a blessing.-C. H. Spurgeon
None of us can come to the highest maturity without enduring the summer heat of trials.-C. H. Spurgeon
On some few occasions I have had troubles which I could not tell to any but my God, and I thank God I have, for I learned more of my Lord then that at any other time.-C. H. Spurgeon
Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the dark chariots of bright grace.-C. H. Spurgeon
Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the top of a mountain. So are many things learned in adversity which the prosperous man dreams not of.-C. H. Spurgeon
The anvil, the fire and the hammer are the making of us.-C. H. Spurgeon
The Christian gains by his losses. He acquires health by his sickness. He wins friends through his bereavements, and he becomes a conqueror through his defeats.-C. H. Spurgeon
The tears of affliction are often needed to keep the eye of faith bright.-C. H. Spurgeon
There are some of your graces which would never be discovered if it were not for your trials.-C. H. Spurgeon
There is nothing that makes a man have a big heart like a great trial.-C. H. Spurgeon
We find no sword-blades so true in metal as those which have been forged in the furnace of soul-trouble.-C. H. Spurgeon
Jesus was transfigured on the hilltop, but he transforms us in the valley.-J. Charles Stern
It takes a world with trouble in it to train men for their high calling as sons of God and to carve upon the soul the lineaments of the face of Christ.
-J. S. Steward
A sanctified person, like a silver bell, the harder he is smitten, the better he sounds.-George Swinnock
Cold blasts make afire to flame the higher and burn the better.-George Swinnock
God's rod, like Jonathan's, is dipped in honey.-George Swinnock
We are safer in the storm God sends us than in a calm when we are befriended by the world.-Jeremy Taylor
For a Christian, even the valleys are on higher ground.-D. Reginald Thomas
Despise not the desert. There is where God polishes his brightest gems.-R. A. Torrey
As the hotter the day the greater the dew at night; so the hotter the time of trouble the greater the dews of refreshing from God.-John Trapp
Better be preserved in brine than rot in honey.-John Trapp
Better be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.-John Trapp
Troubles are free schoolmasters.-John Trapp
Affliction is God's flail to thresh off our husks.-Thomas Watson
Christians are commonly best in affliction.-Thomas Watson
Is it any injustice in God to put his gold into the furnace to purify it?-Thomas Watson
Jonah was sent into the whale's belly to make his sermon for Nineveh.-Thomas Watson
The eyes that sin shuts affliction opens.-Thomas Watson
The whale that swallowed Jonah was the means of bringing him safe to land.-Thomas Watson
There is more evil in a drop of sin than in a sea of affliction.-Thomas Watson
When God lays men on their backs, then they look up to heaven.-Thomas Watson
Whilst I continue on this side of eternity, I never expect to be free from trials, only to change them. For it is necessary to heal the pride of my heart that such should come.-George Whitefield.
We know not what we lose when we pray to be delivered out of afflictions, because God always increases his consolation and grace as afflictions abound.-Thomas Wilson
I am mended by my sickness, enriched by my poverty, and strengthened by my weakness.-Abraham Wright
What fools we are, then, to frown upon our afflictions! These, how crabbed so ever, are our best friends. They are not intended for our pleasure, they are for our profit.-Abraham Wright
Among my list of blessings infinite stands this the foremost that my heart has bled.-Edward Young
Spurgeon comments on testing of our faith:
In the ancient times, a box (blow) on the ear given by a master to a slave meant liberty, little would the freedman care how hard was the blow. By a stroke from the sword the warrior was knighted by his monarch, small matter was it to the new-made knight if the royal hand was heavy. 'When the Lord intends to lift his servants into a higher stage of spiritual life, He frequently sends them a severe trial; He makes His Jacobs to be prevailing princes, but He confers the honour after a night of wrestling, and accompanies it with a shrunken sinew. Be it so, who among us would wish to be deprived of the trials if they are the necessary attendants of spiritual advancement?
Afflictions when sanctified make us grateful for mercies which aforetime we treated with indifference. We sat for half-an-hour in a calf's shed the other day, quite grateful for the shelter from the driving rain, yet at no other time would we have entered such a hovel. Discontented persons need a course of the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, to cure them of the wretched habit of murmuring. Even things which we loathed before, we shall learn to prize when in troublous circumstances. We are no lovers of lizards, and yet at Pont St. Martin, in the Val D'Aosta, where the mosquitoes, flies, and insects of all sorts drove us nearly to distraction, we prized the little green fellows, and felt quite an attachment to them as they darted out their tongues and devoured our worrying enemies. Sweet are the uses of adversity, and this among them—that it brings into proper estimation mercies aforetime lightly esteemed.
We never prize the precious words of promise till we are placed in conditions in which their suitability and sweetness are manifested. We all of us value those golden words, "When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" but few if any of us have read them with the delight of the martyr Bilney, to whom this passage was a stay, while he was in prison awaiting his execution at the stake. His Bible, still preserved in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, has the passage marked with a pen in the margin. Perhaps, if all were known, every promise in the Bible has borne a special message to some one saint, and so the whole volume might be scored in the margin with mementoes of Christian experience, every one appropriate to the very letter.
How different are summer storms from winter ones! In winter they rush over the earth with their violence; and if any poor remnants of foliage or flowers have lingered behind, these are swept along at one gust. Nothing is left but desolation; and long after the rain has ceased, pools of water and mud bear tokens of what has been. But when the clouds have poured out their torrents in summer, when the winds have spent their fury, and the sun breaks forth again in glory, all things seem to rise with renewed loveliness from their refreshing bath. The flowers, glistening with rainbows, smell sweeter than before; the grass seems to have gained another brighter shade of green; and the young plants which had hardly come into sight, have taken, their place among their fellows in the borders, so quickly have they sprung among the showers. The air, too, which may previously have been oppressive, is become clear, and soft, and fresh. Such, too, is the difference when the storms of affliction fall on hearts unrenewed by Christian faith, and on those who abide in Christ. In the former they bring out the dreariness and desolation which may before have been unapparent. The gloom is not relieved by the prospect of any cheering ray to follow it; of any flowers or fruits to show its beneficence. But in the true Christian soul, 'though weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning.' A sweet smile of hope and love follows every tear; and tribulation itself is turned into the chief of blessings.
There is an old story in the Greek annals of a soldier under Antigonus who had a disease about him, an extremely painful one, likely to bring him soon to the grave. Always first in the charge was this soldier, rushing into the hottest part of the fray, as the bravest of the brave. His pain prompted him to fight, that he might forget it; and he feared not death, because he knew that in any case he had not long to live. Antigonus, who greatly admired the valour of his soldier, discovering his malady, had him cured by one of the most eminent physicians of the day; but, alas! from that moment the warrior was absent from the front of the battle. He now sought his ease; for, as he remarked to his companions, he had something worth living for—health, home, family, and other comforts, and he would not risk his life now as aforetime. So, when our troubles are many we are often by grace made courageous in serving our God; we feel that we have nothing to live for in this world, and we are driven, by hope of the world to come, to exhibit zeal, self-denial, and industry. But how often is it otherwise in better times! for then the joys and pleasures of this world make it hard for us to remember the world to come, and we sink into inglorious ease.
"I had," said Latimer, describing the way in which his father trained him as a yeoman's son, "my bows bought me according to my age and strength; as I increased in them so my bows were made bigger and bigger." Thus boys grew into crossbowmen, and by a similar increase in the force of their trials, Christians become veterans in the Lord's host. The affliction which is suitable for a babe in grace would little serve the young man, and even the well-developed man needs severer trials as his strength increases. God, like a wise father, trains us wisely, and as we are able to bear it he makes our service and our suffering more arduous. As boys rejoice to be treated like men, so will we rejoice in our greater tribulations, for here is man's work for us, and by God's help we will not flinch from doing it.
We had traversed the Great Aletsch Glacier, and were very hungry when we reached the mountain turn half-way between the Bel Alp and the hotel at the foot of the Ægischorn; there a peasant undertook to descend the mountain, and bring us bread and milk. It was a very Marah to us when he brought us back milk too sour for us to drink, and bread black as a coal, too hard to bite, and sour as the curds. What then? Why, we longed the more eagerly to reach the hotel towards which we were travelling. We mounted our horses, and made no more halts till we reached the hospitable table where our hunger was abundantly satisfied. Thus our disappointments on the road to heaven whet our appetites for the better country, and quicken the pace of our pilgrimage to the celestial city.
"The pine, placed nearly always among scenes disordered and desolate, brings into them, all possible elements of order and precision. Lowland trees may lean to this side and that, though it is but a meadow breeze that bends them, or a bank of cowslips from which their trunks lean aslope. But let storm and avalanche do their worst, and let the pine find only a ledge of vertical precipice to cling to, it will nevertheless grow straight. Thrust a rod from its last shoot down the stem, it shall point to the centre of the earth as long as the tree lives."
Amid the sternest trials the most upright Christians are usually reared. The divine life within them so triumphs over every difficulty as to render the men, above all others, true and exact. What a noble spectacle is a man whom nothing can warp, a firm, decided servant of God, defying hurricanes of temptation!
Our afflictions are like weights, and have a tendency to bow us to the dust, but there is a way of arranging weights by means of wheels and pulleys, so that they will even lift us up. Grace, by its matchless art, has often turned the heaviest of our trials into occasions for heavenly joy. "We glory in tribulations also." We gather honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.
When the green leaves bedeck the trees and all is fair, one cannot readily find the birds' nests, but when the winter lays bare the trees, anyone, with half-an-eye, may see them. Thus amid the press of business and prosperity the Christian may scarcely be discerned, his hidden life is concealed amid the thick and throng of the things of earth; but let affliction come, a general sickness, or severe losses in the family, and you shall see the Christian man plainly enough in the gracious patience by which he rises superior to trial. The sick bed reveals the man; the burning house, the sinking ship, the panic on the exchange, all these make manifest the hidden ones. In many a true believer, true piety is like a drum which nobody hears of unless it be beaten.
Our crosses are not made of iron, though painted sometimes with iron colours; they are formed of nothing heavier than wood. Yet they are not made of pasteboard, and will never be light in themselves, though our Lord can lighten them by his presence. The Papists foolishly worship pieces of wood supposed to be parts of the true cross; but he who has borne the really true cross, and known its sanctifying power, will value every sliver of it, counting his trials to be his treasures, his afflictions argosies of wealth, and his losses his best gains.
Lawns which we would keep in the best condition are very frequently mown; the grass has scarcely any respite from the scythe. Out in the meadows there is no such repeated cutting, they are mown but once or twice in the year. Even thus the nearer we are to God, and the more regard he has for us, the more frequent will be our adversities. To be very dear to God, involves no small degree of chastisement.
Payson thus beautifully writes: —
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Your affliction quickened your prayers. There is a man trying to write with a quill pen; it will not make anything but a thick stroke; but he takes a knife and cuts fiercely at the quill till it marks admirably. So we have to be cut with the sharp knife of affliction, for only then can the Lord make use of us. See how sharply gardeners trim their vines, they take off every shoot, till the vine looks like a dry stick. There will be no grapes in the spring, if there is not this cutting away in the autumn and winter. God quickens us in our afflictions through His Word. (Barbed Arrows from the Quiver of C. H. Spurgeon)
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Celebrate bankruptcy? How foolish that seems to us! Yet author Leo Buscaglia's mother did just that. Her husband came home one evening and sadly told the family that his business partner had stolen the assets of the firm. Bankruptcy was unavoidable.
Though times be dark, the struggles grim,
Life's trials should make us better - not bitter.
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Faith Tested - Alexander Maclaren, in a sermon entitled Faith Tested and Crowned, (Ge 22:1) distinguished between being tempted and being tested or tried. He said that “the former word conveys the idea of appealing to the worst part of man, with the wish that he may yield and do the wrong. The latter means an appeal to the better part of man, with the desire that he should stand. Temptation says, ‘Do this pleasant thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong.’ Trial or proving says, ‘Do this right and noble thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is painful.’ The one is a sweet, beguiling melody, breathing soft indulgence and relaxation over the soul; the other is a pealing trumpet-call to high achievements.”
Raku - Some friends gave us a piece of Raku pottery. "Each pot is hand-formed," the tag explained, "a process that allows the spirit of the artist to speak through the finished work with particular directness and intimacy." Once the clay has been shaped by the potter it is fired in a kiln. Then, glowing red hot, it is thrust into a smoldering sawdust pile where it remains until finished. The result is a unique product—"one of a kind," the tag on our piece insists.
We are here to be perfected,
Happy Adversity? - On the back of a wedding anniversary card were some wiggly lines drawn by our 3-year-old grandson. Alongside was a note from our daughter explaining that Trevor told her what he had written: "I'm writing a letter for your love and happy adversity."
Affliction does not come as a thief to steal our happiness, but as a friend bringing the gift of staying power. Through it all, God promises us His wisdom and strength.
So don't be offended if I wish you "Happy Adversity" today.— David C. McCasland
Be assured beyond all doubting,
Higher Math - Mathematical formulas work well with numbers, but not with people. That's why this equation in James 1 sounds unworkable:
Faith + Trials = Patience
One might better try to mix oil and water. But what makes this formula work is confidence in God's unfailing love, which allows for all the human emotions that come with life's trials.
Afflictions may test me,
F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk - JOY IN THE HOUR OF TRIAL - "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience."--James 1:2-3.
Then we shall tell how God's glorious arm went also at our right hand, as at the right hand of Moses; of how the stony paths became soft as mossy grass; of how He led us out of the scorching heat into green pastures and waters of rest; and how He provided for us to make for Himself a glorious Name. Yes, we will make mention of the Lord, according to all that He shall have bestowed upon us, according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His lovingkindness. We will tell the story of how the Angel of His Presence saved us; how, in His love and pity, He redeemed us; and how He bare and carried us all the days of old. We shall have a great story to tell! "My heart and my flesh fail, but Thou art the strength of my heart and my portion for ever! None of them that trust in Him shall be desolate.'"
PRAYER - Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give me an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give me an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. AMEN. (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk)
Turning Trials Into Triumphs - James' words "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (1:2) offer a vital key for turning trials into triumphs. Although we don't choose to have trials, we can choose how we respond. J. B. Phillips paraphrased it like this: "Don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!"
Our loving God transforms us
See the transmuting effect of grace enabling the tried and tempted family of God to count it pure joy, whenever they face trials of many kinds. We have here a problem in arithmetic. Take all your trials and mark them down. Now add them up, and what is the sum total? "Joy!" What mysterious arithmetic! How unlike the addition taught in schools! How different from the sums and problems in the lesson books! How different, also, a result does the Lord bring out from your own calculations when you looked at them one by one, without adding up the whole sum! Then "count it pure joy" whenever you face trials of many kinds, knowing that their effect is—to wean you from the world—to endear Christ—to render His truth precious—and to make you fit for your eternal inheritance. Are you satisfied with the solution of the problem? Can you write down your own name at the bottom of the sum and say, "It is proved—I carry the proof in my own bosom?" (J. C. Philpot. Riches)
Wall-Bangers Anonymous - I’ll never forget the time during college when, after I had finished writing a big paper that was due the next day, I heard a loud commotion in the room across the hall. My neighbor was in a state of panic, throwing stuff around his room looking for his paper. Frustrated, he banged his fist against the closet and shouted, “Thanks a lot, God. You make life one big laugh!”
It’s not only inevitable, it’s indiscriminate. Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. “Various trials” (James 1:2) affect our health, our careers, our relationships. Once we understand the facts, we can begin appreciating their significant value in our lives.
Step Two: Trade resistance and resentment for receptivity and rejoicing.
“Count it all joy” The joy is not in the presence of pain but in the knowledge that God is using our pain to refine us and make us better, not bitter. — Joe Stowell
If we embrace adversity,
God chooses what we go through; we choose how we go through it.
Growing Pains - When suffering invades our lives, we often wonder what we've done to deserve it. Yet even Jesus, our perfect Savior, suffered during His earthly life. Hebrews 5:8 says that "He learned obedience by the things which He suffered."
Those whom God has called to suffer
Octavius Winslow - "It is good for me that I have been afflicted," has been the exclamation and the testimony of many of the Lord's covenant and tried people. It is often difficult at the moment to justify the wisdom and the goodness of God in His dealings with His saints. David found it so, when he saw with envy the prosperity of the wicked. Job found it so, when, in the hour and depth of his afflictions, he exclaimed, "You are become cruel to me: with Your strong hand You oppose Thyself against me." Jeremiah found it so, when in his affliction he said, "He has hedged me about, that I cannot get out: He has made my chain heavy." And yet, where is the furnace-tried, tempest-tossed believer, that has not had to say, "In very faithfulness has He afflicted me"? During the pressure of the trial, at the moment when the storm was the heaviest, he may have thought, "All these things are against me;" but soon he has been led to justify the wisdom and the love, the faithfulness and the tenderness, of His covenant God and Father in His dealings.
A B Simpson (from Christ in the Bible) has this message on James 1:2, 12
Rotherham slightly changes the translation of these verses, as does also the Revised Version.
The epistles of Paul and John represent the interior, the experimental, and spiritual side of Christian life, while that of James represents the practical. God makes His mosaics of many different pieces and the blending of all together makes the perfect whole. There is room for James as well as for Paul and John. Paul is the apostle of faith, John of love, Peter of comfort, but James is the apostle of good works, the apostle of practical living. He stands in the New Testament very much as the book of Proverbs stands in the Old. It has been said that the reason the Scotch are such a practical and prosperous race is because every Scotsman used to be brought up with the book of Proverbs in his vest pocket. It would be well to have some cheap editions of Proverbs and more pockets to hold them.
This conservative old minister in the Church of Jerusalem, James, deals with the practical discipline of life from two sides.
I. THE DISCIPLINE THAT COMES TO US FROM TEMPTATION.
1. He first tells us that temptation is not an unmingled evil.
By temptation he means undoubtedly evil; not trouble, but the solicitation of evil, the battle for right with the power of the tempter and our evil heart.
While it is evil, it has a good side, and it becomes an agency in the education of our spiritual character and the strengthening of all the better elements of our nature.
2. While temptation is not directly from God, yet it is overruled by God, and made one of His instrumentalities of blessing to us.
God does not "tempt any man, neither is tempted with evil," yet God permits us to be tempted. God put our first parents into temptation and He made it possible for them either to choose or refuse; gave them a nature subject to temptation, and while it might overcome them, it might also be overcome. God does not tempt any man, yet He does allow this to be one of the classes in the school of faith and holiness. He even led Jesus Christ, His own Son, into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil. Think it not a strange thing then, dear friends, if your life is called to pass through the ordeal of the conflict, evil from within and from without, not merely things that grieve, afflict and distress you, but things that tend to make you do wrong and draw you from the path of righteousness, truth and godliness. They will come. God wants you to be forewarned and forearmed, and to know it is better that they should come to you, if you but take the panoply of God and come through in victory.
3. The source of temptation; whence it comes.
Temptation comes from your own heart. There are innumerable tempters, men, women and fallen spirits of wickedness. But none have any power unless we have ourselves a traitor in the citadel of the heart. The enemy cannot get in unless you let him in. You hold the key of the fortress. Therefore it is in your own heart that the crucial battle is fought, the secret foe is hidden, your own lust, your own desire or "coveting," which is the literal translation, the thing in you that wants to do the wrong; your wish for it, even if it is not yet your will. This is the starting place of temptation. It is the blossom of sin. And this is where God wants to bring His sanctifying grace and take away the very desire. Just as the sea fowl plunging in the miry water comes up undefiled because its wing is oiled and burnished, and the filth around cannot adhere to it, so the Lord Jesus passed through the powers of darkness and the allurements of the world and all the evil that was around Him and was proof against it. He could say "the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me." It is in the heart that temptation has its starting point. Ask God to give you a true and holy desire to please Him, and an instinctive repugnance and recoil from evil, and so long as you have this, you shall not fall into temptation.
4. Then we have the blessedness of resisting and enduring temptation.
The battle does you good. The conflict educates you, strengthens you, establishes you, and is necessary for you that you may be grounded and settled and finally approved and rewarded. One of the best results of temptation is that it shows you what is in your own heart. It reveals yourself. Until temptation comes, you feel strong and self-confident, but when the keen edge of the adversary's weapon has pierced your soul, you have more sympathy with others and less confidence in your own self-sufficiency, and you are humiliated and broken at His feet, a poor, helpless thing, and this is the best thing that can happen to you. God wants to disarm you and lay you low, and then He can lift and save you and give you His strength. It makes you humble and doubtful of yourself. You find you must not take the aggressive, but fly to your refuge in Christ. He will make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it." (1Corinthians 10:13-note) Like the little conies that hide in the rock and do not face their enemies, but fly for shelter, you will find your only safeguard is Jesus Christ; He is the shield to cover you, and you will be safe not by fighting, but by hiding behind the cross and in the bosom of your Savior. If you have had much spiritual conflict, it has humbled you, shown you your helplessness, and taught you sympathy for others.
Temptation exercises our faith and teaches us to pray. It is like military drill and a taste of battle to the young soldier. It puts us under fire and compels us to exercise our weapons and prove their potency. It shows us the resources of Christ and the preciousness of the promises of God. It teaches us the reality of the Holy Spirit and compels us to walk closely with Him and hide continually behind His strength and all-sufficiency. Every victory gives us new confidence in our victorious Leader, and new courage for the next onset of the foe, so that we become not only victors, but more than conquerors, taking the strength of our conquered foes and gathering precious spoil from each new battle field. So that temptation strengthens what we have received and establishes us in all our spiritual qualities and graces. You will find the forest trees which stand apart, exposed to the double violence of the storm, are always the sturdiest and strike their roots the deepest in the soil. And so it is true in the spiritual world, as the apostle Peter expressed it;
At the same time temptation teaches us to watch as well as pray, to avoid the things that bring temptation, and to keep off the enemy's ground. It is only the inexperienced Christian that plays lightly with evil. Luther used to say "He must needs have a long spoon who sups with the devil." "Pray," says Bishop Hamlin, "from God's side of the fence." Don't jump over into the devil's garden, and then ask God to help you, but keep on God's side, and watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation. Often our overconfidence betrays us. Like the man who had escaped the bailiff who tried to serve him with a warrant for arrest, and had just got across the State line, where the law protected him, when his pursuer, exchanging guile for force, laughed and said, "You have the best of me. And now let us shake hands and part friends." The foolish fellow reached out his hand, and in a moment the bailiff had pulled him over to his side of the line and clapped the handcuffs on him. So if Satan cannot beat us fairly, he will allure us so near the borders of danger that we shall be caught by his wiles. Some people sail so near the lake of fire that they get their sails scorched and find it impossible to get away. The maturest Christian is always the humblest and most watchful. Let us be not high-minded, but fear, and learn to combine the two blessed safeguards of hope and fear, which God has so wisely blended in these two passages: 1Co 10:12: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," and then adds in the thirteenth verse, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." And yet once more, in the fourteenth verse, he returns to the language of warning and caution, "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry."
Temptation also teaches us patience.
This implies that patience is the finishing grace of the Christian life. Therefore, God usually puts His children through the school of suffering last. It is the graduation class in the discipline of Christ. Let us not, therefore, be surprised if God puts us through the hottest of all furnaces, namely, that which is fired with the devil's brimstone, before He makes us vessels for His glory.
5. Temptation brings a glorious recompense of reward, for "when he is approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him."
There is a reward for the soul-winner. There is a reward for the Christian pastor and worker. But there is also a special reward for the man or the woman that has had no great service, and perhaps has won no single soul, but has stood in the hard place, has kept sweet in the midst of wrong, and in the face of temptation, pure amid the allurements of the world, and simply withstood in the evil day, and having done all, stood at last approved. On the field of Waterloo, there was a regiment which stood under fire through all that awful day and was not once suffered to charge upon the foe. It held the key to the position, and as again and again permission to advance was asked, the answer came "Stand firm."
When they had nearly all fallen, the message came back for the last time from their commander, "You have saved the day," and the answer was returned, "You will find us all here." Sure enough they lay a heap of slain on that fatal, yet glorious hill. They had simply stood, and history has given them the reward of valor and the imperishable fame of having turned the tide of the greatest battle of the nineteenth century. So God is preparing crowns for quiet lives, for suffering women, for martyred children, for the victims of oppression and wrong, for the silent sufferers and the lonely victors who just endured temptation. Tempted brother, be of good cheer. Some day you will wonder at the brightness of your crown.
II. THE DISCIPLINE OF PROVIDENCE.
In the striking parable of the potter and the wheel, Jeremiah has taught us that while God is disciplining the heart by the touch of His Spirit, He is turning round the clay on the wheel of providence and bringing us into new situations for the exercise of new graces and the teaching of new lessons with every alternation of life's conditions. So that His providence cooperates with His Holy Spirit in the education of our spiritual character, and we are to recognize the things that happen to us as in no sense accidents, but simply divine methods of dealing with us and teaching and blessing us. So James proceeds to bring out the relation of God's providence to our spiritual discipline in the ninth and tenth verses, "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low."
1. We have the discipline of prosperity. This is not a hard or uncongenial experience to the natural heart, but it often is the hardest of all experiences for the soul.
But how few Christians really know how to abound. How frequently prosperity changes their temper and the habits and fruits of their lives! To receive God's blessing in temporal things, to have wealth suddenly thrust upon us, to be surrounded with congenial friends, to be enriched with all the happiness that love, home, the world's applause and unbounded prosperity can give, and yet to keep a humble heart, to be separated from the world in its spirit and in its pleasures, to keep our hearts in holy indifference from the love and need of earthly things, to stand for God as holy witnesses in the most public station, and to use our prosperity and wealth as a sacred trust for Him; counting nothing our own, and still depending upon Him as simply as in the days of penury -- this, indeed, is an experience rarely found, and only possible through the infinite grace of God. And yet God calls His children in greater or less measure to pass through the test of blessing.
It may not be a great fortune, but a joy in your humble life worth more to you than millions. Now He does not ask us to refuse it, to be harsh, narrow and monkish, and to think to make ourselves better by asperities and penances. No,
Open your heart to the love and joy He is bringing. Bask in the sunshine of His smile. But do it with a humble and unselfish heart. Let your blessing only make you more sensitive to the sufferings of others, more grateful to Him, and more ready to make sacrifices and render services to your Master and your fellow men. Then can "God rejoice over you to do you good with all his heart and with all his soul."
2. Then comes the other side of the revolving wheel, the discipline of adversity. The brother of high degree is made low. Wealth takes wings and flies away. Friends prove false, and even the downy nest of love and home breeds viper's eggs and bitter heartbreaks. But we must still rejoice. God is testing us in the crucible. We have a witness for Him that only the dark shadows can bring out. Let us be true to our testimony. Let us glorify Him in the fires. Let us look over the head of all our trouble to Him, and still believe that all things work together for good to them that love God." Then nothing can be against us.
And sorrow touched by God grows bright
Adversity often has to come to save us from the loss of eternal life. Then only when all other things fail us, can we fully find the all-sufficiency of God, and learn that within ourselves we may possess the resources of perfect happiness by having Him. It was thus that the Hebrew Christians could take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves that they had a better and more enduring substance. (Heb. 10:34-note) It is a rare secret in the alchemy of grace to be able thus to transmute a seeming flaw into an eternal touch of grace and glory.
A lapidary once purchased a beautiful stone, but found afterwards that there was a hidden flaw of iron rust beneath the surface. At first he was disposed to throw it away as worthless. Then there came to him the conception of a rich design, in which a female figure was cut in the stone, and the strong tint of the iron vein was carved into a rich robe, whose drapery and color added a beautiful adorning to the exquisite figure. Thus the flaw became the fairest charm in all the fine creation of his genius. And so God would have us take the things that seem to be against us and so transmute them by the power of His grace that "instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree."
In conclusion let us learn to find in God the secret of blessing and victory under all conditions and circumstances, and even to turn the hate of Satan into an occasion of victory and blessing. Thus shall the curse be made a blessing, sorrow turned into joy, and even sin so conquered that grace shall much more abound. (A. B. Simpson. Christ in the Bible - James)
J R Miller - Not all of us understand the meaning and purpose of temptation. We think of it as an effort of Satan to destroy us.
The deeper meaning of my trials
William Cowper alluded to the beneficial effects of trials allowed by the beneficent God…