We live in the midst of very trying days. Disasters come with increasing frequency and affect those we love and care about. In days like these we look for direction, hope, help and encouragement.
When wisdom is needed for days like these I go to the book of James. Both James, Peter and Paul talk about our responses to trials, but James opens his book with instructions for trials.
In the opening verses of James there are two words that have captured my thoughts. These two words had never stood out to me before, so let me share my new discovery with you.
The verses are 2-4. They are the most challenging verses in the book because of their invitation to a decision. Here they are with these two words highlighted,
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
These two words are the keys to the invitation!
Let's reverse the verses and see if it sounds any different,
Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing...
...therefore, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
Because we know the outcome we can respond differently to the problem! I had not really captured that clearly before.
(I'm sorry, I'm quite slow.)
But suddenly I saw this- when we know that God's
goal is to make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing, it's much easier to see trials as the training camp for that outcome.
Similar to the gym experience that takes the pain of a workout in light of the goal, we can endure the trials knowing what we will look like when God is finished.
Consider, knowing. If you knew how you were going to turn out could you endure a few trials to get there?
Could you do it with joy, knowing God is working for your final good…that you would look like Christ?