A Society of Suffering – Gospel in Life

A Society of Suffering

Tim Keller |  November 22, 2009

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  • Suffering
James 1:1-18
RS 317-01


The book of James is called Wisdom Literature in the New Testament, which means that the book is very practical. It has a high view of God’s law and an ethical focus that runs throughout each chapter.

We’re considering the question, “What’s the vision of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York?” Let’s look at three things we learn from this passage in James about the topic of suffering: what we face, how we can face it, and who we face it with.

Understanding James 1:1–18

The book of James is like a handbook filled with useful advice. It highlights the importance of staying strong and growing in faith when times get tough, encourages us to seek wisdom from God, and warns us about the dangers of doubting. This forms the basis for diving deeper into the helpful teachings that James shares.

1. The challenges we face

As Christians, we’re bound to face tough times and hardship. These tough times test our faith and help separate genuine faith from the pretend kind. Instead of running away from hardship, we’re asked to find healing through it, just like Jesus did. It’s important to acknowledge and accept that suffering is a part of life, consider repentance as a way of choosing to suffer, even if society doesn’t prepare us for such experiences.

2. The way to handle these challenges

Even though suffering isn’t a good thing, it can help us grow and become more mature. This can help us handle life better and be better parents or partners. The key to handling suffering is gaining wisdom and understanding, which we can get through prayer, reading, and advice from trusted friends. It’s important to root ourselves in God and build our lives on Jesus to withstand and grow from suffering.

3. The company we keep in these challenges

Suffering can either improve us or destroy us, depending on whether we go through it alone or with someone else. Misunderstanding our desires can make us blame God for our suffering, especially when we value worldly things more than Him. This leads to sin and self-focus. The cure for this mistake is loving Jesus wholeheartedly, staying faithful in obeying Him and loving others, even when suffering. This ultimately purifies us, just like gold is refined.



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