This is message #1 in our study through James, The Gospel for Real Life (TGFRL).
I have a huge admiration for firefighters. While most of us instinctively run from fires, they run toward and into them. Totally counterintuitive.
But in some ways, we all face fires. Not literal fires. But tests. James calls them trials.
- Trials of many kinds.
- That come in various intensities.
- Like hurricanes à Cat 1 to Cat 5.
In other words, a trial can be anything from a minor frustration to a major catastrophe.
- A trial can be a chronic physical condition like arthritis, or the loss of a job.
- Trials can result from the persecution you get for showing integrity in the workplace.
- Divorce, injury and dealing with death all qualify as trials.
- And natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
- The trial of displacement, uprooted from home; not to mention the uprooted trees!
- I’ve been thinking a lot about the trees that surround my house and the wind that is coming…Irma.
- I received a text from my insurance company asking me to text HELP to a certain number…
The book of James begins with a very straightforward, but compassionate perspective on how believers can approach trials from what most of us will consider an unconventional, counterintuitive approach. Much like running into a fire rather than away from it.
James is one of the first New Testament documents written. Most likely written in early to mid-40s A.D.
In many ways, this letter describes how grace changes us. After all, we are not only saved by God’s grace, we are changed by grace.