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CDC1-13. Grace When Things Are Hard {Transcript}


  • Heb 5:8-10

In this session we’re gonna talk about counseling people who are undergoing significant trials. It’s gonna be grace when things are hard. And this is an issue when you’re counseling someone that you can focus on one particular passage of Scripture. There are a few different options. And the one I’m choosing is James chapter one verses two through 18. And how the Scripture helps people who are undergoing trials. I think many people are unprepared for significant trials. Small children have fairytales and at the end of every fairytale they live happily ever after. I guess teenage girls read romance novels or Jane Austen books and same things, you know, the book ends with a wedding and it’s all gonna be wonderful and happy. But the reality of life is often very different from that. And people actually often come for counseling when they are facing a trial perhaps for which they were unprepared and actually sometimes what drives them to invite you into their private world and where they’re desperate for help is they face a trial they just do not know what to do. And so this is an opportunity for us to minister the Word of God to them and the sufficiency of Scripture prepares us. And the Bible tells us how to face our trials be it with our families, rebellious kids, difficulty in marriage, conflicts with in laws, be it trials of health or finances. The Word of God speaks to these issues. As a counselor, this is a time when you want to offer hope and show compassion. It’s not just time to give a dated dump of all the verses you know, but to apply these verses particularly to the counselee and to show compassion as Christ is a compassionate Savior. And as I said, one of the most well known passages on dealing with trials is in James chapter one. And in this passage, James is teaching us how God uses our trials to bring about our spiritual growth. Now this is not the way we would choose to become more mature. We would like God to zap us with instant maturity. But God uses trials in our life to make us more like Christ and it is a process and it can be a difficult process. But it’s actually one through which our Savior Himself went as well.

You Will Face Trials.

Hebrews five describes how, that He Himself was made perfect in his suffering and he learned obedience from the things he suffered. And so we too will learn through these trials. And I find it also is helpful to give a counselee a structure that they can remember. Perhaps even write down on a note card. In this passage, we’re gonna see four things that I think we need to remember in the midst of trials. First, one, you will face trials. Second, God uses your trials to mature you. Third, in the midst of your trials, ask God for wisdom. And then finally, trust in the goodness of God in the midst of your trials. So beginning in verse two, James says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Trials are not unusual. Trials are the ordinary experience of believers as we live in a fallen world. James doesn’t say consider it all joy, my brethren, if you happen to encounter trials, it’s when you encounter trials. It’s going to happen. Jesus said in the world, you will have trouble. And we know here in the context the first verse is describing the readers of this book. We learn more about them as we read through the rest of the book. They were 12 tribes dispersed abroad. Later James is gonna describe how they’re being oppressed by their rich employers, how they’re being mistreated in court by powerful people. And so they were in the midst of trials. We are in the midst of trials.

And as you read in the Bible, trials are the ordinary experience of believers. People like in their families, people have these kind of idealized dreams of multigenerational peace and everybody’s on the same page. This isn’t what happens in Scripture. The very first couple, Adam and Eve, have one of their sons as a rebel against God who kills the other. And as you go through the rest of the people in Scripture, you have many, many trials. Abraham and Sarah where Abraham puts his wife’s purity at risk and then sleeps with her maid Hagar and there’s conflict in the home and Ishmael is kicked out with his mother. And on and on you go. In Jacob’s family, two wives and a brother beaten, tossed in, you know, Joseph tossed into a pit by his other brothers who were jealous and favoritism and on and on we go. In Ezekiel, you actually have an interesting chapter in chapter 18 where you have multiple generations. You have a believing generation followed by an unbelieving generation then another believing generation. The same thing happens in the books of the Kings where some righteous kings then they have wicked sons and vice versa. We’re going to have sometimes even in our own families. Jesus warned in Luke 12, From now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They’ll be divided father against son and son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, the daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. The Gospel itself will bring us, attract more trials of persecution. People have trials, as I said, so many of their trials are in their families.

I think it’s kind of funny how you see some of the titles of books on marriage like So What Did You Expect? Or Whose Dream? Or you know, When Sinners Say I Do. I’ve been shocked sometimes even counseling people in the first months of their marriage and the honeymoon isn’t over. The honeymoon almost never began. And there’s conflict between them. There’s conflict with in laws or conflict over finances. They wonder have I married the wrong person? People who’ve been married longer. Some end in divorce. Some deal with unfaithfulness. Some are married and many women are married but lonely because their husbands are off in their own worlds. And then likewise, with their children. Some can’t have kids. Other’s kids break their hearts. Some kids are born with down syndrome or have autism and other learning issues. And as we face these trials, it can be overwhelming. I think of a dear couple who came and they brought in their 20 year old daughter. This couple had just done everything for their kids. The mom had quit work, homeschooled them. They really, if anything, might have been somewhat of a child-centered home. But they bring their 20 year old daughter and she’s pregnant out of wedlock. And the mother is just weeping and mourning over this. Another couple and their 22 year old son. He was going to college and the couple kind of anticipating their kids are gonna be all grown. He’s the youngest. He has a brain injury. And now he can’t sequence events in his life and he may be living with them for the rest of their lives and they’ll have to worry about caring for him after that. We face tragedies. We face financial issues. We face health issues. And contrary to the health and prosperity teachers, James doesn’t say if you have a trial, just have enough faith and the trial will go away. He doesn’t tell us how to get out of the trials. He tells us how to benefit from the trials.

As you read the Scriptures again, and you read like the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11, these are people who demonstrated faith and who grew in their faith in the midst of great difficulty. So there’s no formula in life by which you can avoid trials. Not even in your own family. There’s not if you just raise your kids this way, everything will be fine. If you just eat this kind of food, you’ll never get sick. Trials are unavoidable. And in the language James uses here when it says when you encounter various trials, another way of translating, when they fall upon you. It’s the same word used in the parable of the good Samaritan where the traveler is going down the path, going down the road, and he fell among thieves. They came out of nowhere. There’s not trials that you can look on your Outlook or Google Calendar and say oh, yeah, there’s gonna be a trial next month. Trials come when life is going on like normal. You’re minding your own business and suddenly you get that call in the middle of the night. Suddenly you talk to one of your children and learn something that’s happened in their lives. You can’t plan for it when it’s going to happen but you can be sure it will happen. You don’t need to go looking for it. And God will bring these into your life. But then as we see, you will face trials.