Yesterday I was in a car accident, to get that out of the way… I am totally physically unharmed and so was the other person, we were both alone in our respective cars, suffice to say we collided and that is all I really care to say about it. Now it is horrible, I am without my car for a period of time, I have to change many plans I have made for the next few days, possibly weeks. This I would consider, along with the loss of money, a trial, James speaks about trials in James 1, and I have recently preached on the issue and am currently studying my way through the book.
The point of my writing this is to at least demonstrate how the sovereignty of God shines through in this situation, which from all human reasoning is not good at all.
Firstly, this is a guaranteed opportunity for expressing joy, James wrote in verse 2 of chapter 1, “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” Why? Well I am now more dependent and can be joyfully dependent on the One who allowed the accident. This draws me closer to God, since I must now trust him for a number of things, money, my car, transportation, the thoughts people have about me, my relationships. I like what commentator Warren Wiersbe said on this passage, “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, then trials will make us bitter, not better” (Be Mature, [Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1978], p.23).
So now i pray, God help me value the spiritual more then the material.
Secondly, I must have an understanding mind. verse 3 says,”Knowing this, that the testing of your faith worketh patience” two things I need to know 1) The reality of the testing… Look every Christian will get it, we are promised trials and tribulations and problems in this world… we are not in heaven .2) the reason for the testing….. Why am I being tested? Well according to Romans 8, God’s intention is to make me conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and according to verse 4 of James 1 these things will make me complete and lacking in nothing. So I can rejoice because God is working in my life through the tools of these trials, to make me more like Christ. So I have thought about it so I don’t waste it, and this is some of the things I figured out, the rest, only God knows.
1) I need to be grateful, not like those of Romans 1, who were unthankful, I should be thankful that the Lord spared me from injury, from being totally written-off, spared the other driver, spared me from going to jail due to any death that could have happened. Grateful that I have a car to crash… There are people who suffer living in abject poverty. Thankful for a kind church with godly elders that care and have provided me with a car till mine comes back, thankful for God’ provision of insurance, thankful for the opportunity to give witness to Christ to the lady I crashed with, and to the police later. Thankful that I had friends with cars to help me after the accident. Basically thankful for so much, since in fact I am a sinner who deserves hell, so in fact I got off light. That leads to my second point….
2) Humility. Contrary to my own prideful heart, I am not the worlds most perfect driver who never makes a mistake. Now other people may think less of me, they may think, “Ah, what a typical 23 year old” and my flesh hates that, but the only reason it does is because I think I am so much more then that, my heart tempts me to think I am more then just dust. Humility, that will make me more like Christ, oh that the sin of pride would be gone from me, and praise God for allowing this accident to cause it to be attacked.
3) Patience. Wow, I thought I had patience, but I saw how the next day, not having my own car, and after being a bit ruffled, I got so frustrated in traffic, which I don’t normally. I thought I was a pretty patient person, but I see how when things are not going well, my patience are short.
Thirdly, I must have a submissive will. James 1:4 says, “let patience have her perfect work, then you will be perfect and complete lacking in nothing” I need to let the perfect work happen, patience is not the point, the end result is to make be perfect… The Greek word was used of a mature animal, who was fully grown. I must not be angry or impatient, upset that God is working, I must not wish for it not to have happened… Its funny, I was sitting yesterday and thinking, “God, you can do everything, please undo time or make us all wake up and the accident never to have happened”, what a foolish attitude, what I am saying in essence is that God did not know what He was doing. But I know, what happened was the best possible thing that could happen, cause it was the will of the all-wise, all-loving God, and He knows what I do not, so I pray God by the grace of Christ, help me to be submissive in this my lesson.
One other thing I learn’t also comes from James. Foolish man, you say we will go here and there and do this and that, yet you do not know what will happen tomorrow. I had such grand plans, to go to Bible study and teach, then go watch some soccer and have a restful night, after that the next day I would go watch my German teach beat Croatia (Its been a rough three days), but alas, God had other plans, I should rather have said God willing. I need to remember that the Lord is in control, it is so easy to become self-sufficient in your thinking. As if this was bad enough, my computer crashed today, and showed me the blue screen of death. Praise the Lord, this is truly great my friends, the Lord is working, and I need to become more like Christ, not have a good car and fancy computer.
I hope this helps those of you out there who have heard my sermon on James 1:1-4 see this in a contextual light. If you would like to listen to this sermon you can click on one of the following links, and search for my name and this text (James 1:1-4)