The Tough Stuff of Life
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The Tough Stuff of Life

Main Passage: James 1:12-27

Focus Passage: And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, Ephesians 4:26 NLT

The Christian life isn't easy, that's for sure. Yet often we falsely believe that once we are saved, all is great and dandy. Some think we should have a Christian Utopia, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, James chapter 1 says quite the opposite: we will face various trials and temptations in life.

photo by Priscilla Westera

During the time when the book of James was written, persecution was beginning to heat up for the early church. The Jewish Christians struggled with this, probably because they still had the mindset that they were God's covenant people, from the old covenant instead of the new covenant in Jesus Christ and deserved be blessed. Almost like spoiled children they expected something that was not real nor practical.Salvation was opened up to anyone who believed in Jesus as Savior. Somehow they missed the lesson from their ancestors' wilderness wandering with Moses and, more recently, Jesus' teachings. It was hard for them to understand, so their lives began to look no different than before their salvation. James wrote this to help them get back on track by living out their faith regardless of the problems that came their way.

There are Christians who feel like God is out to get them under trials, giving way to the temptation to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9). "If God really loves me, He wouldn't do this to me!" In their anger over their situation, the F-bomb and other heated, caustic words flow from their mouths. It must be His fault. Every little problem causes a major meltdown. It's not long before they stop going to church, stop praying, stop reading the Bible. They walk away, resentful. Satan has been given a huge victory because they gave him a foothold in their anger. It's like they are walking the wrong way on the train tracks in the path of the oncoming train. No wonder they are not blessed in life.The Christian life is just tough. photo by Redd Angelo

One of the products of frustration and impatience is anger. When there is job loss, it's easy to blame the boss or company and resorting to angry words about the "way I was treated". Soon slanderous words tumble out at every opportunity. Even simple things can really get under our skin especially when they pile up. When it rains, it pours! Sometimes we feel like God is out to get us, but nothing could be further from the truth. He loves us beyond measure.That is why he allows trials and temptations in life-- to produce a stronger, more resilient relationship with Him. He blesses us when we trust Him to take us through these things. I was reminded of this song, This is the Stuff by Francesca Batistelli. When we are tempted respond to the tough stuff of life in an angry manner, the first thing to do is look to our Heavenly Father for help, and keep living out our faith in real, practical ways.

I remember a swim team coach whose wife was diagnosed with cancer. Our fitness club extended a welcome to the local high school swim team while their pool was being upgraded. I often guarded our pool at lunch time when this coach would lap swim. His strokes were perfect and smooth. One day, I noticed him beating the water into submission with every stroke. Later, I discovered his wife's diagnosis. He took his pain to the Lord during his swim time, letting his anger out in the pool. His words and life reflected an unswerving faith in God. He didn't cave in to the temptation to become bitter. God continued to bless his faith-filled life in so many ways.

Anger leads to bitterness which leads to sin and separation from God. Do you feel like you are drowning in anger and bitterness over situations you can't control? Are walking into an oncoming train, feeling like God doesn't love you? Does He seem like He is far away? It may be because you moved away from Him, not the other way around. Resist falling into sinful behavior.  Keep control of your words. Take your frustration and impatience to Him. Continue living out your faith in real, practical ways during the tough stuff of life. He will bless you.

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