In this world we will face trials. In this clip from the James: Faith/Works study, Pastor Matt Chandler explains why he loves the Bible so much because it meets us where we are, in the mess of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
When you starting talking about trials and struggles and difficulties here’s what I love—and I’ve said this a thousand times—I love the griminess of the Bible. I just love it.
[James] doesn’t say, “If you experience trials or if you happen to be this small portion of people that are going to go through trials and struggles…” That’s not what he does because that’s not the reality we live in. It’s not if, it is when. When you face trials of various kinds. (James 1:2)
And if you’re like, “Well, what does he mean by trials? Is he talking about difficult marriage?” Well that would fit in the category of various. See, that’s what I love about he just put “various” there. Well, are you talking about being sick? That would be a variety of trial. Well, what about difficulty with I’ve got a kid who’s acting a fool. He’s wild and acting out. Would that be there? That is various, right? There’s no wiggle room here. If you’re enduring a trial, there it is.
Now a couple of things so we can just talk here. Some of you, this conversation will not be some point about things that are coming in the future. You’re in it right now and it’s awful. And yet, here we are going, “No, no, no, trials will come.” For some of us this ideas of trials is not ethereal. It’s right now.
And others of us—because it’s when, not if—that storm is building somewhere out there in the ocean. The wave is moving closer and closer to us. In fact the phone could ring this week or could ring two weeks from now. Our day of trial will come.
If I’m being real honest and really chipper, it’s not just the day of trial, it’s the days—plural. You don’t just survive one and go, “Man, glad I got that one behind me. Just spirit-sprinkled joy for the rest of my life.” That’s not what happens. It’s mountaintops and valleys, is it not?
That’s what I love about the Bible. The Bible meets us in the world that we are in. It’s not fantasy. There’s no picture of utopia in the here and now for us. There is one coming, but the Bible is clear that you and I are in the space between. The already and the not yet. That Christ has died and ushered in the coming of the kingdom and it is not yet consummated. It’ll be consummated at the return of Christ. So in the meantime, we’re in this space between.
What we see in the Bible is that our world is not sterile, it’s grimy. People get sick. They die. They are betrayed. They are wrongly accused. They grow weary. They lose heart. But by the grace of God, others endure. Their legs are strengthened. Their heart is enflamed. They hold fast and have a type of joy that transcends some of the most horrific circumstances imaginable.