Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People – 3

The Sense of Trials. The plural noun, “trials” in James 1:2 is fromtest pic peirasmos, “period or process of testing” (Newman). It is from the verb, peirazo, “to test, scrutinize, examine, prove” (Strong).

What were the tests and trials of these believers? Some had a temptation problem. They were being tempted to sin (Jas. 1:14). Some had a tongue problem. They were murdering others with their tongues, while praising God with them (Jas. 1:26; 3:5-6). Some had a catering problem. They were catering to the rich, while snubbing the poor (Jas. 2:1-6). Scholars say that most of these believers in James’ time were poor. Also, they had a doing problem. Some were hearing the Word, but not doing it (Jas. 1:22). Some had a sin problem. They were committing sin that caused their sickness (Jas. 5:15, 19-20).

James called these problems, trials “of various kinds” (James 1:2, ESV). “Various kinds” here is from poikilos—“diversified, manifold”;[1]or what A. T. Robertson calls, “many coloured.”[2] Probably the most colorful life full of trials is Paul’s. He experienced:

far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure (2 Cor. 11:23-27, ESV).

One wonders if Paul had “the favor of God,” given all these trials and tribulations. If “the favor of God” excludes these trials in Paul’s life, then he does not experience “God’s best” for him. But Paul asserts that God’s favor still rests on him, despite these fiery trials.

And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10, NKJV).


[1] Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed., rev. F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker, trans. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1979), s. v. poiki¿loij.

[2] A. T. Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, Power Bible CD.

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