02 The Trouble with Trials

This is part of a Bible Study series on the Epistle of James. You can find more information on the complete series by going to the Series Overview.

This Week: James 1:1-12
Date: January 10, 2016
Series: Shoe Leather Theology: Study of James

This Week’s Resources:

This Week’s Lighthouse Lesson

Overview of this Lesson

The path of life is not an easy path to walk. It is filled with all kinds of trials and temptations, trials such as sickness, disease, accidents, disappointments, sorrows, suffering, and death; and temptations such as all the seductions to sin and evil. What we need is a guaranteed way to conquer all the trials and temptations of life. This is the glorious message of this passage: there is a way to conquer and triumph in this life, no matter how severe the trial or temptation. What is the way? It is possessing a spirit of joy and perseverance as we face the trials and temptations of life. This is a striking study on enduring faith. Faith, real faith which comes from God above, endures all trials. It will not fail. Such faith is complete, full, perfected.

The primary focus of this lesson will be on James 1:2-6. We are also including some time for prayer at the conclusion of this week’s lesson. As you lead your Lighthouse, be sensitive to the reality that some may be in the midst of a flood of trials right now, and learning to respond to trials as James outlines is a growth process. Spiritually, they may not have reached a level of maturity that allows them to see trials as an inevitable part of life, and one that can be used by God to grow our faith (perfect us) or by the Devil to tempt us to turn from God.

Memory Verse for This Week

James 1:2–4 (ESV)–2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Core Virtue: Hope

Hope (Hebrews 6:19-20): I can cope with the hardships of life and with death because of the hope I have in Jesus Christ.


  • Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
  • From your perspective, how would you define trials in life?
  • How do most people—both believers and unbelievers—respond to times of trials?

This Week’s Take Home Truth

The trouble with trials is they require a response we don’t normally give and wisdom we don’t naturally have.

Read the Text (James 1:1-12)

The reality of suffering creates within us questions regarding God’s justice and life’s purpose. For millennia, the best philosophers and theologians have attempted to resolve the apparent discord between belief in an all-good and all-powerful God and the pervasiveness of wickedness, evil, and suffering in the world He created. Trials of life—or death—eventually overtake everybody. Without exception. How we respond to trials is what sets apart the child of God from the wayfarer wanderer who seeks immediate relief from trials and misses entirely the lessons God is teaching us through trials. Read James 1:1-12.

Digging Deeper

In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions.

  • Biblically, how should we understand the concept of trials?
  • How does James encourage his readers to respond to times of trials?
  • What would you say to a fellow Christian who struggles to understand how to “consider it all joy” when facing life’s trials?
  • After introducing the topic of trials, James encourages his readers to ask God for Wisdom. Explain why this is important.

Becoming A House of Prayer

Set aside a portion of your Lighthouse for prayer. This week, if possible, divide your group into men and women and have the men meet in one room and the women in another. Plan ahead and be sure you have a woman who is willing and ready to lead the women’s time in prayer.

Prayer Prompts:

  • Pray that as a church, 2016 will be a year when our church family grows in its understanding that Jesus is the Messiah and desires to reign as Lord in the life of every believer (Matthew 16:16).
  • Pray that our Lighthouses will lead our families to be devoted to prayer, “keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).
  • Pray that First Family will have a gospel impact on the Neighborhood directly north of our church, from SE Belmont to SE Peterson to SE Delaware to SE Magazine Road. There are thousands of people living within this neighborhood and there are three churches ministering within this neighborhood: Ankeny Church of the Brethren, St. Paul Lutheran Church, and First Family Church. Pray for these churches, for their leaders, and that the Lord will open our eyes to the needs right across the street from us.
  • Pray for our GO Partners ministering in countries around the world. Pray that the Lord will protect these families, bless them with health, provide for their material needs, and give them great credibility and influence within their communities. For the names of specific GO Partners and where they minister, visit the GO Team wall for the latest newsletters and prayer cards.
  • Pray specifically for those within our church family experiencing trials. Are there members within your group who are in the midst trials? Pray for them specifically.

Concluding Thoughts

In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions.

  • What do you believe God is trying to teach you this week through the trials and situations you are experiencing?
  • In what specific areas do you need to ask God for His wisdom this week?
  • What temptations do you need God’s help to resist this week?

A Prayer When in the Midst of Trials

Help me, Lord, to finally comprehend what it means to consider it pure joy whenever I face trials of many kinds. Help me to know that the testing of my faith develops perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work in me so that I may be mature and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2—4). Lord, You are not asking me to rejoice that I have lost someone or something precious, but You know that in my loss I can rejoice in all I have to gain if I’m willing. Never must my suffering be in vain. Merciful Lord, restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Ps. 51:12).–Beth Moore

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