Wk 2 // Big Jim // Perseverance Through Trials
Discuss examples of endurance outside of the Christian faith—things that require physical or mental endurance.
Share an example of a time when you had to endure something and what that experience was like for you. What motivated you to endure during that time?
All of us have faced, and will face again, trials of various kinds. James wrote to early Christians and to us as well, providing instructions for facing trials. He teaches us how we can endure and persevere in the midst of trials, and how we can experience God working through the difficult times in our lives.
In this week’s message, Pastor Mike shared these words from James, and encouraged us to be servants even through trials, with full confidence that God will care for us through any circumstance.
Spend a few minutes recapping this week's sermon together. Click here to view the sermon notes.
What was one takeaway from this week's sermon for you?
Were there any stories, ideas, or points that stuck out?
Was there anything that challenged you?
Have a volunteer read James 1:1-4.
According to James, what should be a Christian’s attitude when facing trials? How often is this your attitude in your own hard times?
When you have experienced trials in your life, did you consider it all joy or become depressed and discouraged?
James advised those facing trials to approach them with joy. When trials are rightly faced they are avenues to spiritual growth; when faced wrongly they become temptations to evil. James did not say trials should make us happy or that we should look forward to them. Rather, James wrote with a deep realization that life’s pressures have a way of strengthening our character and faith. In other words, they help us develop perseverance.
Why is perseverance important? What reward comes with persevering in the faith?
Perseverance or “endurance” is not the goal, but the means of reaching the goal. The goal is to become mature and complete. A physically mature adult who behaves at the level of a young child is not a mature adult. Likewise, a Christian who is mature in the knowledge of the Scriptures but whose behavior does not match his or her profession of faith is not a mature Christian.
Have a Volunteer Read Romans 5:3-5.
What two things did Paul say we can rejoice in because of God’s grace? Which of Paul’s stated reasons for rejoicing is a little tougher for you to swallow? Why?
How can a believer’s Christlike endurance of suffering offer a testimony of hope to others?
Christian joy runs deep and endures because its source is the ever-flowing stream of God’s grace. This is why both Paul and James could state that we as believers also rejoice in our afflictions. Paul’s statement doesn’t imply that we somehow enjoy suffering. Rather, it means that we have confidence God will use even our afflictions to bring about His good purposes in our lives. For this confidence we need look no further than the example of Jesus. He willingly bore the most horrendous pain and suffering with a view that His death and resurrection would open the way to our salvation (see Heb. 2:10; 12:2).
In what specific ways does suffering provide an opportunity for believers to show they believe in Jesus and rejoice? How is Jesus’ life a model for this?
How can testing or trials actually strengthen a believer’s faith?
Endurance is self-authenticating; we grow in endurance by staying the course of faith and not being swayed by trials. Proven character follows naturally from the believer who has remained faithful through trials. Enduring trials causes us to grow in faith, and such growth is a testimony of faith’s authenticity.
Have a volunteer read James 1:5-8.
How do you define “wisdom”? How is it related to enduring trials?
Heavenly wisdom is particularly needed when we face trials. Difficult times often visit us suddenly and without warning. Our natural reactions could be distress, grief, perplexity, confusion, disappointment, or hopelessness. Without wisdom, we do not have God’s perspective on our trials, a perspective that helps us get through the dark days of difficulty. When we find that we lack wisdom, we should turn to God for it. To access this wisdom, we must ask. God gives generously without finding fault.
What does James teach us about the nature of our prayers for wisdom?
How will God respond to us when we pray by faith for God’s wisdom?
We must come to God in faith, trusting that He will grant us the wisdom we need. We should not expect results when we exhibit a faith mixed with doubts. When our faith wavers in such a manner, we are like a wave in the ocean that is driven and tossed about at the mercy of the wind. The wave moves one way one minute and another way the next minute according to the movement of the wind. The imagery is that of vacillation and instability.
When have you experienced difficulties and been encouraged to continue to have faith because you trusted God’s promises?
What has helped you see God’s hand and feel His love during times of affliction in your life?
When have you prayed for and received God’s wisdom? What do you do when you pray but still have doubts?
Spend some time in prayer, reflecting on the truths of this passage and how they compare to the perspective you have on life. Pray for God’s supernatural courage and strength to endure. Close by praying over your group, challenging them to apply what they’ve learned as they go out into the world this week.