A Proper Attitude Toward Trials - Joy.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

Consider it pure joy. Not part joy and part something else, but pure joy. It seems quite unnatural for our attitude toward trials to be pure joy. However, this is a categorical biblical command. We are commanded to have an attitude of joy in trials.

Matthew 5:11-12
11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

It is not being happy about the trouble. It is finding joy in what the trouble produces. It is enjoying the sweet fruit produced only by bitter times.

The Powerful Outcome of Trials (vv. 3-4)
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Consider it all joy…because you know…that the testing of our faith produces perseverance...and perseverance makes us mature and complete..

1 Peter 1:6-7
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire -- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

I love this little parable of endurance. It seems that an old mule fell into a farmers well. After considering the situation, the farmer decided that neither the mule nor the well were worth saving. So, he decided to bury the old mule and put him out of his misery. When the farmer began shoveling, the mule was hysterical. But as the farmer kept on shoveling, and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck the old mule. Each time a shovel full of dirt hit his back, the mule would shake off the dirt and step up. So, blow after blow, the mule would shake it off and step up. No matter how painful those shovels of dirt were, the old mule fought panic, he just kept shaking it off and stepping up. Finally, the mule, battered and exhausted stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well. What he thought would bury him actually benefited him because of the way he handled his adversity.

Perseverance is the ability to shake it off and step up when a load of trials are dumped on you.

John Eldredge tells the story of a Scottish discus thrower from the 19th century. He lived days before professional trainers and developed his skills alone in the highlands. He made his own discus from the description he read in a book. What he didn't know was that the competition discus was made of wood with an outer rim of iron. His discus was made of pure metal, four times heavier than the ones used by his would-be challengers. This committed Scotsman trained day after day, laboring under the burden of extra weight. He marked the record distance and kept working until he could throw that far. Of course, when he arrived at the competition, he was handed the official wooden discus. He threw it like a tea saucer. He set new records and for many years, none of his competitors could touch him.
As Eldredge reflected on this story, he said, "So that's how you do it - train under a great burden.

Some of us here today are training under a great burden. It hurts. It is unpleasant. Sometimes we despair. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we are angry at the burden. But we must always take heart. We must always have a deep sense of joy. Why? Because the burden is producing perseverance. Perseverance is producing maturity. Neither of these virtues so prized by God would ever be ours without the burden.

Habakkuk 3:17-19
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18  yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

Count it all joy.


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The Sweet Fruit of Bitter Times

James 1:2-4
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

   
Consider for a moment the Krispy Kreme donut. Many of us have tasted them. Some people will line up and wait for hours to purchase these sweet delights. Let me tell you about the process that leads to a Krispy Kreme donut.
    First the little balls of dough are shot through with a piercing blast of air to create a hole. Then they go into the proof box where they ride up and down an elevator in an atmosphere of heat and humidity. This causes the dough to rise. After this, they are dropped into hot oil and boiled thoroughly. After surviving this ordeal, the donuts pass through a cascading waterfall of icing.
    Does anyone here today feel like you are a Krispy Kreme? Do you feel like you have been blasted with air? Do you feel like you have been boiled in oil? Well, remember that these experiences precede the sweet delight that follows. None of us look forward to trials. None of us love hardship. But without them, we will never enjoy the sweet fruit of maturity. As Billy Graham said, "Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys."