Bad Things Happen; Better People Emerge

James 1:1-12

Jerry A Collins




v                 Should we consider trials a good thing?

v                 What does it mean to be double-minded?

v                 How do we receive the crown of life?


Just like everything else we experience in our lives, the challenge is to see all of it from God’s point of view. This is how it is when we face hardship and difficulties of various kinds. We can complain and groan under the weight or we can respond differently because we understand trials from God’s point of view. James says we must face difficulty in life as a test instead of a mess. A test is given to a student to determine his or her ability to comprehend material and pass—not pass out. So the kind of attitude we bring to a trial can be shaped by our understanding of them from God’s point of view. This assists us in passing the test. We can have an attitude like that because we have knowledge of the advantage of trials. We also learn where to find the assistance we need in the trial so that God is honored and pleased. James gives us some perspective on this.


James is writing to Jews who are scattered—that is no longer in Jerusalem. This scattering is also the occasion for difficulties and hardships of many kinds. James wants to shepherd them as scattered sheep and give counsel to them in the midst of their challenges vs 1. They are living among the Gentiles as their ancestors had in the days of captivity. He begins with some surprising advice. Their trials should be faced with an attitude of joy. The idea is to take it upon yourself to consider trials a joyful thing. Do it!

1) Trials should not be seen as a punishment, a curse, or a calamity but something that prompts rejoicing within us. It is obvious that difficulties are inevitable. But we cannot just mix some of our grief with joy when they come. It is a joy that is unmixed and pure.

2) It does not say that we should be joyous for the trials but in the hardship. So it is not a just grin and bare it mindset but an understanding from within that this is for a good reason. Most of us count it all joy when we escape trails but for the believer we must see beyond the trial and orient our spirit in a joyful direction.

3) We can expect that trials will come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Various things are just going to come along in life that happens to you not as a result of your sin or your plans. Bad stuff happens. Flat tires, death, divorce, financial pressures, physical ailments—you name it. So don’t spend your life trying to avoid trials. You cannot prevent them. But you can respond to them with joy.


First, we learn to have a different perspective—the trials are tests of our faith vs 3. Trials can be viewed as tests designed to show what is inside of you. What you are made of spiritually. What would it take for you to say, enough, God? So, earthly trials can be for our spiritual good. God never places you in hardship without a purpose. You can know that He wishes to test your surrender to Him. The trial then is for your own good—to see if you really are surrendered in faith to God and His purposes for you.

Second, we learn that tested faith through trial produces steadfast endurance or perseverance vs 3. God is interested in a faith that has staying power. A faith that has been thoroughly tested by fire and held up under the pressure. God wants your faith in Him to mature. As it does, you will not pursue sinful solutions to get relief but endure the difficulty with God’s strength for His purpose to be completed. Then perseverance must finish its job vs 4. Let it have its perfect or complete result in our lives.

Third, tests of our faith by means of trials work perseverance in our lives that must be allowed to produce its ultimate by-product our maturity. Maturity is the result of being steadfast under trial. It is a seasoning process. Note the sequence—trial, then perseverance, then maturity. Maturity is valuable.

1. When you face a trial in your life do not begin by demanding relief from God. You short-circuit the process of your spiritual maturity if you only demand deliverance from your trials.

2. You should not view your trials as your enemy. It is not the absence of trials but the pressures of trails that test and determine my spiritual maturity.

3. Trials can put controls on our chaos, so we can pursue order to our chaos, so that we can expand on that order and develop personal and spiritual maturity in our lives. We can never pursue maturity from our chaos. WE CAN FIND THE ASSISTANCE WE NEED TO FACE OUR TRIALS

We can feel confused, lost, and frustrated by viewing trials this way and the process toward maturity they are designed to produce vs 5.

First, the path from trials to maturity is on the path of wisdom not just knowledge. Wisdom is the ability to put to use the understanding you gain from knowledge. If you lack that about your trials, then ask God for it—He will give it generously and without reservation. Notice, it is not asking for relief from it but wisdom in it. God will not hold back on you with this either—He will give it to you generously. This is a God-ordained process He will honor.

Second, you have to ask without doubting—that is, doubting God. You cannot trust God and then judge God at the same time. You cannot doubt God and have faith in Him at the same time. If you judge God this way then you are putting God on trial. If you have been unfairly accused at work and then dismissed, and you ask God for wisdom and God says not to seek revenge and you reject that, then don’t ask God for wisdom. You cannot have faith in God and His Word and judge it at the same time. You are failing the test of your faith. The one who judges is like the wave of the sea which does not go anywhere being tossed by wind. If God is on trial, then there is no way to know where to go—you drift back and forth. Don’t expect anything from God because this double-mindedness—should I seek an expedient worldly solution or God’s Word—will not find favor with God.

Third, rejoice no matter what the circumstances 9-11. If you are in a humble position, that’s good because it is really a high position from God’s point of view. See the eternal advantages you have in your humble position. The one who is rich can be glad for his human frailty because social prominence withers away & fame will fade. For both groups of believers, hope in the eternal is evidence of maturing faith from the trials that produces it. God wants to wean us off of a worldly, earthly mindset. We must think about our trials—their outcome, advantage, and assistance from God’s point of view.

Fourth, then you will receive a crown of life vs 12. This comes through the path of humbling yourself instead of developing a high position for yourself. This crown of life consists of life & promises one life here & now in its fullness. This is promised to those who love Him not doubt Him. Your steadfastness in trails reveals your love for God & His purposes instead of pursuing relief out of His will. Life comes when you lose it by pursuing God’s perspective in your trials.  


1. Understand that the path to maturity goes through the road of difficulty. God wants to perfect you through trials here.

2. If it is difficult for you to see the advantages of your trials, ask God for His aid to see that and persevere.

3. View your trials here as preparation for your life there by seeing your trials as eternally valuable for you.