How to Triumph in Tough Times

Practical Wisdom from James 1

How are things going? Actually, I’m pretty certain I can answer that for you! It’s likely you are either coming out of a tough time, in the middle of a tough time, or about to face a tough time (I know I’m just a bundle of optimism). But, how do I know that? Jesus said it – “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). The good news is that Jesus goes on to say, “…but take courage, I have overcome the world.”

Here’s the point: It is the not troubles that get us into trouble, it’s how we respond to them.


If you have a Bible handy, take time to read James 1:1-8. Warren Wiersbe in his book, Be Mature shares four principles to overcoming the obstacles we face.

  1. Count—A right attitude

First, we are to “Count it all joy!” Yep! That’s what James says! “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). Honestly, I’d rather count it all joy when I avoid a problem, not face one. The text here also suggests it can be any problem – the word “various” means multi-faceted. It can range from the trivial to the traumatic.

Warren Wiersbe writes this:

The key word is count. It is a financial term, and it means “to evaluate.” Paul used it several times in Philippians 3. When Paul became a Christian, he evaluated his life and set new goals and priorities. Things that were once important to him became “garbage” in the light of his experience with Christ. When we face the trials of life, we must evaluate them in the light of what God is doing for us.

  1. Know—A proper understanding

It’s not the trials we rejoice about, but what we KNOW they produce! James goes on, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

God wants us to develop steadfastness and stability in our lives. That happens as we keep on keeping on. It may be hard and frustrating, but if it’s the right thing to do, keep at it! Or it may be confusing and overwhelming, but if you’re living fully for Jesus, keep trusting! My dad used to say, “Anyone can give up!” It’s true. We give up far too easily. God fulfils His purpose in our live as we keep on leaning on Him, rather than giving up.

  1. Let—A surrendered will

James then says, “And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” God wants to build character in the midst of our challenges. That requires that we cooperate with Him and surrender our will to him.

Wiersbe makes this observation:

God builds character before He calls to service. He must work in us before He can work through us. God spent twenty-five years working in Abraham before He could give him his promised son. God worked thirteen years in Joseph’s life, putting him into “various testings” before He could put him on the throne of Egypt. He spent eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of service. Our Lord took three years training His disciples, building their character.

The greatest prayer we can pray is “Lord, not my will, but yours be done.” We have to “let” God work in and through the trials we face. We must be willing; we must fully surrender.

  1. Ask—A believing heart

The last step can be found in James 1:5-8. It says, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.”

Weirsbe says this about wisdom:

Why do we need wisdom when we are going through trials? Why not ask for strength, or grace, or even deliverance? For this reason: We need wisdom so we will not waste the opportunities God is giving us to mature. Wisdom helps us understand how to use these circumstances for our good and God’s glory.

We can’t truly succeed over our struggles without God. Wisdom is seeing and doing things God’s way.


All four of these principles are essential. Probably there is one that you really need to focus on as you face your current challenge. What is that area?

I’d love to be praying for you and trials you are facing. Please email me any requests you may have.

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