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11. Handling Hassles:

 

The ‘Discipline of the Lord’

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

Life's hassles

Life always has its problems. We call them 'difficulties', 'hassles', 'trials' 'hardships' or 'setbacks'. Becoming a Christian doesn't exempt you from them. God never promised us a hassle-free life this side of Christ's return—the above verse says 'whenever you face trials', not 'if you face them'. The same verse says they are 'of many kinds'. We could mention:

Matthew 5:11-12 'Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 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's this last kind we're talking about in this lesson, and it's vital that you learn how to handle them in a Christian way. Approached properly, each one is an opportunity to grow in character and draw nearer to the Lord.

Fatherly careFatherly discipline

Scripture calls hassles the 'discipline' of the Lord:

Hebrews 12:7, 10-11 'Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons…. Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.'

Life's problems are tailor-made for you, and God is the Tailor. While in one sense our trials come from the devil, God filters them so that only those calculated to do us good actually get through. You can actually benefit from each one! How? To answer this key question we'll look at the verses in James quoted at the top of this lesson.

The right attitude

Attitude is everything. An old poem from the days of sailing ships says:

One ship sails east and another west

By the selfsame wind that blows.

It's the set of the sails, not the waves and the gales,Boat: it's the set of the sails that takes it to its goal

That determines the way each goes.

'The set of the sails' is your attitude. You can have exactly the same problem as someone else; the other person can end up in misery and despair while you end up in greater maturity and Christian wholeness—all because of the difference in attitude.

James tells us what your attitude should be when hassles arrive. Instead of grumbling, 'Why did this have to happen to me?' you should 'consider it pure joy' (James 1:2)!

What 'considering it pure joy' does mean is:

The test of faith

James says every hassle is a 'testing of your faith' (James 1:3).

Crash test dummyEverything of value gets tested: new models of car, beds, building materials, new food products etc.

The test leads to strengthening. For instance, if when the prototype of a new car is being tested the engine works loose on its mountings, the maker fits new, stronger mountings that will stand the pressure, and these go into the production model.

God tests your faith in him in the same way—so that it becomes stronger through the test:

1 Peter 1:6-7 'For a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 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 honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.'

So hold on and do what's right, trusting God to see you through and strengthen your character. Determine that you'll pass the test and that the trial will be a stepping-stone to blessing.

Perseverance

James goes on: 'You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance' (James 1:3).

That's why, though we pray for deliverance from the pressure, God sometimes delays it. Anyone can survive a five-minute hassle. It's when it goes on for days, weeks or months that we develop How to handle hassles, according to James ch 1perseverance in trusting God and keeping a thankful attitude to him. So don't complain; instead, let perseverance 'finish its work' (James 1:4).

Other Bible versions translate 'perseverance' as 'steadfastness' (RSV), 'fortitude' (NEB) or 'endurance' (TCNT). These words remind us that the Christian life is a marathon, not a quick sprint. It requires stamina. That's why perseverance is such a highly-praised quality in Scripture (see Acts 14:22; Colossians 1:22-23; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Hebrews 12:2-3). Use your hassles to develop it.

The road to maturity

There's a huge bonus in seeing your hassles through to the end in an attitude of faith and perseverance. James says you'll become 'mature and complete, not lacking anything' (James 1:4). That means:

We'd all like to be like that, of course, though preferably by some other route than hassles! But in God's purpose it's the hassles, rightly handled, that are the normal route to such Christian maturity.

Letting yourself be trained

No-one should pretend that all we've noted so far is easy; it isn't. But the dividends it pays are out of all proportion to the hassles.

Remember, however, that the maturing process isn't automatic. You have to let yourself be trained by theTrainee with instructor problems. The writer to the Hebrews says, 'No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it' (Hebrews 12:11).

It's possible for Christians to lapse into the world's kind of reaction. By grumbling and sighing they refuse to be 'trained by it' and forfeit the potential benefits.

What a pity when that happens! It's a lost opportunity for growth and progress. Make up your mind here and now that you'll embrace your hassles God's way, seeing them as his loving discipline to shape your character into his likeness.

 

 

Learn
by heart

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

Heart

GiG11: God's Discipline
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