Problems seem to come in waves. It's not just one challenge, it's often several at a time.
And few are resolved quickly. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll begins a brand new teaching series called Clinging to Hope. It's designed to bring comfort to anyone who feels they're under the crushing pressure of problems. Whether you're homeless, a broken relationship, or a financial crisis, this comforting study will offer relief.
Chuck titled his opening message in this new series, When Troubles Come and Stay. And we begin just after the congregation had sung a familiar hymn. This piece, Great is Thy Faithfulness, finds its origin in the little, often overlooked book between Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the little book of Lamentations, where the prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of the city he loved and the loss of home and possessions. There is grief, sadness.
So much of the book is in a minor key. As the writer Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, weeps over the city that has gone through destruction and loss. But there's one bright spot in the book, and that's right there in the center part of chapter three, where he reminds the reader, nevertheless, God's mercies are always there. His faithfulness is always true, and we can count on it. Great is his faithfulness unto us. It's good that we remember that in this day when so little is said of it anywhere else outside the church. You hear nothing of it on the news.
The media is not a place to find encouragement and divine direction. That's always been true. It's not just true now.
It's always been so. So how valuable it is that we gather to be reminded of such things as God's faithfulness, God's provisions meeting our needs. The people in the day of James needed to hear that because they were scattered, like you would throw sand across a field. The people of James Day were Jewish converts who had come to know the Messiah, and they were therefore outcasts among their own people. The Roman emperor had no place for them, so persecution marked their lives. Children were mocked and thrown out of schools.
Their businesses were boycotted, and life was terrible. Just humanly speaking, trials were regular. And so not surprisingly, James addresses those dear people at the very beginning of his letter, saying to them there are purposes beyond the immediate that I don't want you to miss. And that's why he writes what he does in these first early verses. I'm going to read for you from James one beginning in verse two down through verse 12. In this passage that talks about those times when troubles come and stay. They don't come and leave, they come and they multiply.
And they don't go away. We'll read of that here. James one beginning at verse two. I'll be reading from the New Living Translation. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow. For when your endurance is fully developed, you will be mature and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers.
The little flower droops and falls and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised those who love him. The beautiful thing about scripture is that it addresses the now, but helps us realize now is a very small part of the plan of God. His plan reaches into the past and certainly stretches into the future all the way into eternity, where there are rewards. Such as he names the crown of life for those who endure testing. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download the Searching the Scriptures studies for this series by going to insight.org slash hope. And now the message from Chuck titled When Troubles Come and Stay. Problems can be really weird. I mean, they can happen so unexpectedly. And when you get in the middle of them trying to fix them, they sometimes get worse. And no matter what you do, they just stay around.
They don't go away. Edith was a middle aged mother of eight, and it was a Saturday afternoon and she needed a little break, and so she went to a neighbor's house to enjoy an hour or so of a great visit together. And around suppertime, she realized you need to get back home and start that up. And so she got up on the porch of her home and she noticed that things were unusually quiet.
Too quiet. Curiously, she peered through the screened in porch door and she noticed five of her children were in a circle on the floor. And so she opened the door surreptitiously very, very silently and closed it behind her and crept up near the circle and looked over and she could not believe her eyes. To her amazement, smack dab in the middle of the circle were five baby skunks. Edith panicked. She screamed, quick, children, run!
Each child grabbed a skunk and ran. Some days are like that, aren't they? Well, not exactly like that, but they're similar. Troubles don't just come, they get complicated.
And even when we try to fix them, they often backfire on us. Which came to my mind when I read the actual account that appeared on a company accident form filled out by a bricklayer who was bandaged and bruised as he filed this report. And I quote, when I got to the building, I found that the hurricane had knocked off some bricks around the top. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a barrel full of bricks.
When I'd fixed the damaged area, there were a lot of bricks left over. I then went down a ladder to the bottom and began releasing the line. Unfortunately, the barrel of bricks that I had put back in the barrel, the leftover barrel of bricks, were much heavier than I was at the time. And the barrel started coming down fast and it jerked me up. I decided to hang onto the line since I was now off the ground, too far to jump, and halfway up I met the barrel of bricks coming down fast. I received a hard blow on my shoulder. I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my fingers pinched and jammed in the pulley.
When the barrel hit the ground hard, it burst its bottom, allowing all the bricks to spill out. It was now, I was now heavier than the barrel, and so I started down at a high speed. Halfway down, I met the barrel coming up fast and received several injuries to my feet and shins. When I hit the ground, I landed on the pile of spilled bricks, getting several painful cuts and bruises. At this point, I must have lost my presence of mind because I let go of my grip on the line. The barrel came down fast, giving me another blow on my head and putting me in the hospital. I respectfully request sick leave.
I would imagine he did. While our experiences may not have been anywhere like the bricklayers, we have all known days when particular troubles happen, and even though we have the best of motives to fix things, they get convoluted and they seem to multiply and get worse. Maybe it's that kind of person Shakespeare had in mind in his work, The Comedy of Errors, where he refers to a wretched soul bruised with adversity. Those bruises of adversity, by the way, don't always show up on our skin. Sometimes those bruises are deep down inside our hearts or residing within our emotions.
The Bible doesn't overlook either physical or emotional bruises. Job writes, Man is short lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower, he comes forth and withers. The Living Bible renders that beautifully. How frail is man?
How few his days? How full of trouble? Paul writes to the Corinthians, We are afflicted in every way. We are perplexed.
The word means at a loss, confused. We don't know which way to turn. We are persecuted. We are struck down.
But we're not knocked out. David writes in the Psalms, Many are the afflictions of the righteous. The Bible speaks often of the bruises of the adversity of life. Back in the Victorian era, Joseph Parker ministered for thirty three years at the city temple. During those years, he often counseled and mentored younger men entering the ministry. I love his counsel to them, which I've read in more than one place.
He would tell them, Preach to broken hearts and you'll never lack for a congregation. There is one in every pew. That is not only true in the Victorian era.
That's true in this era. As I look from row to row in the seats of this great house of worship, I look into the faces of you who who are worshippers. And I know that in many a heart, there is a brokenness. There is sadness. There is a trial that is lingering that isn't yet resolved. You're living with it.
And some of you are plagued by it. Most of us who read the letter of James do not pause to realize that people in the first century were also such individuals. They were in a no man's land. These converted Jews. Their own people had nothing to do with them because they that they believed in Messiah. And they were greatly outnumbered by those who did not. The Roman emperor despised them in standard anti-Semitic attitude and and therefore persecution arose against them. And their businesses were boycotted. And the children of these converted Jews were thrown out of their schools and their homes were confiscated. They were, as James writes, they were scattered abroad, like you would throw sand across the field. They were away from the city they loved, Jerusalem, and out of the homeland where they had been reared. And they were in a Roman world with hearts that longed for relief from the trials of life. One wag has said that following the first century Christians would be like tracking a wounded stag in frozen snow.
Just follow the the bloody pathway because it will lead to where the carcass is lying. Easy to forget that when we come to the letter of James. But James remembered. He wrote to first century wretched souls bruised by adversity. When James writes to us and to them, all who are suffering, he answers three questions as he talks about trials. He deals first with what's true about troubles? What do we say about troubles when they come? And secondly, he writes about how can we rise above them rather than live under the weight of them? And then thirdly, when when we have handled them as we should, what can we anticipate? What then? So let's take these questions in that order and we'll work our way through these verses two through twelve of James chapter chapter one.
First, what's true about all trials? Now, let me pause and remind you who have your Bibles. Pay attention to words. Just listen to me as I give you thoughts to think on. Look at the words. Become a, if you will, a word vulture. Pay attention to terms that in a hurried moment you'd look past.
For example, when you get to verse two, the word when stands out. It's the answer to the first part of the question of what is true about trials. Well, they are inevitable. Notice the term is not if. Dear brothers and sisters, if troubles come your way. No, no, no, no, no.
Not if. Because you are brothers and sisters, because you are in the family of God, trials are inevitable. They're inescapable. They're unavoidable. Interestingly, one of the characteristics of human nature is we try to go around them or get away from them or drink ourselves into a place of being able to ignore them or maybe travel will get us away from them and there they are when we come back home waiting for us. You can't get away from trials. That's why he says, dear brothers and sisters, when they come your way. And let me mention here a word that the New Living translation for some reason doesn't include and it should because the original Greek text has the word, it's the word various.
The version that you're using includes it. Various trials come. Interesting little Greek, quaint Greek term poikilos, p-o-i-k-i-l-o-s, poikilos. One person suggests that we get our word polka dot from it. Think of the polka dot on a fabric or on a piece of paper.
All kinds of dots. All kinds of trials come. Some are irksome and irritable and they sort of come and go and more come in their place. Some are deep and life threatening. Some are outward trials that have happened to us and some are inward that happened within us. I made a quick list of those outward trials and my list is short. I couldn't fill five pages with the hardship, grief, disappointments, financial difficulties.
Loss of job, flat tires, dead batteries, broken arms and hips, and on and on the list goes. The inward trials sometimes hit us much harder than those because they happen within. Uneasy feelings. Some of you right now are living with unresolved conflicts. You once were close to so and so and now there's a distance.
That's a trial. You once were good friends and now you hardly are in touch with each other. And you're not really sure what happened.
But there's that distance. Uneasy feelings. And there are strained relationships that follow that.
Feelings of rejection, being misunderstood, feeling insecure. Battles of the flesh, greed, lust, anger to the point of rage. Imaginations and dozens of other various kinds of poikilas, trials that come, they're inevitable. Those things that occur to us are all part of his plan. Please observe as you read through these verses. When troubles come your way, it is an opportunity for you to view them with a positive spirit called. You're considering it a great joy for you know that your faith is tested. A trial is a faith test and your endurance is given a chance to grow.
And as a result, our maturity is developed. What to do when troubles come and stay. That's the issue that Chuck Swindoll is addressing today on insight for living. It's message number one in a brand new 12 part series called clinging to hope. To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insight world dot org. Well, behind the scenes, Chuck has been working on another resource to share with you.
And with this brand new teaching series, I'm thrilled to let you know that Chuck has written a brand new book as well. It's also called clinging to hope. The subtitle is what scripture says about weathering times of trouble, chaos and calamity in his book. Chuck will help you answer questions such as why is there so much suffering?
Why is there so much conflict in the world? Where can I find hope when there's none to be found? Look, when we're suffering or worried or confused, we don't need platitudes. We don't need pie in the sky, wishful thinking. Instead, we need absolute confidence that God is in control. And that's what Chuck's new book is all about, clinging to hope. And you can be among the very first to own a copy by getting in touch with us today. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
Or purchase a copy directly from our website by going to insight dot org slash store. In closing, let me take a moment to thank those who give generously and sometimes sacrificially to insight for living. Perhaps you have no idea of the impact of your gesture, but we sure do. A day never passes without hearing from someone whose life has been touched because of the Bible teaching they receive through insight for living. We read each and every comment that comes to our attention.
And each one represents a sacred moment that was made possible through the voluntary gifts from people like you. So thank you so much. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or you can give online at insight dot org slash donate.
I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll's brand new series called Clinging to Hope continues, Friday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, When Troubles Come and Stay, was copyrighted in 2019 and 2022. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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