Most historians agree that the Book of James was written shortly before he was martyred by fanatical Jewish Leaders for preaching the Gospel. So to have him exhorting fellow Believers to look at the trials in their lives as something good not bad is incredible. James went on, telling them, he knew they were completely aware of all their past afflictions, trials, and persecutions, and how their faith had been tested each time…but that they needed to continue to persevere with patience and endurance… learning to suffer well with a tranquil mind. I don’t know about you, but suffering well these past many weeks has been difficult! And now with the “Stay at Home” order being extended another month for COVID 19…looking at it with good cheer and gladness of heart is very difficult. But Jesus reminds me in the Beatitudes that I should rejoice and be glad in my trials, (Matthew 5:12) and that I need to continue to persevere so that when I have done the Will of God, I’ll receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:36) Thus with all this encouragement, I will joyfully accept persecution. (Hebrews 10:34)
For many of you today this Scripture may be difficult to accept. That’s because today you’re right smack-dab in the middle of trials, suffering, loss, injury, or sickness…and the idea that any light and momentary trouble is achieving in you eternal glory that far outweighs any trouble you’re going through is just a little too hard to take. (II Corinthians 4:17) Or that you should be rejoicing that you can participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. (I Peter 4:13) In this verse God is not discounting your suffering…your loss…the traumatic experience you’re going through right now. Rather, He understands and He’s giving you the grace and endurance to persevere through it.
Standing firm in the middle of trials and tests can take herculean strength on our part. For just standing firm and not surrendering to the circumstances can take every bit of our patience and perseverance. That’s when standing firm I think takes on a active connotation…you may not be moving forward…but you’re sure as not falling back. Standing firm then means endurance, long-suffering, and self-control.
Time was short for the elderly Joshua when he warned the Jewish leaders about being enticed by foreign gods. He wanted them to be fully aware of what the allure and deception of foreign gods could do to the Jewish people. He urged them to remain faithful to the Word of God…persevering with self-discipline in their walk…guarding their hearts and minds from deceit…veering neither to the right nor to the left but always keeping on the straight and narrow. Joshua’s words ring true for God’s people today…Be courageous, keep guard, remain faithful.
The only way you can become really good at something is to practice…whether it’s a sport, a musical instrument, or a newly discovered talent, without practice, it’s just wishful thinking. Today, this Scripture wants us to take a new and different attitude when faced with the trials in our lives. It wants us to consider trials as practice. Every time we’re put to the test, we need to realized it’s a God-ordained crucible in which we are being purified. In other words, trials equal refining…trials equal developing patience…trials equal suffering in the faith…trials are a chance to practice what we preach.
Having been in Nursing Administration most of my life, I’ve interviewed and hired a lot of staff. And the one thing I always looked for was a good work ethic. A first-rate candidate needed to be hardworking, thorough, and patient…while someone who seemed inconstant, lax, and careless would be looked over for the position. Proverbs 12:24 tells us that, “Diligent hands will rule but laziness ends in slave labor.” Developing a good work ethic will get you far, not only in your career, but your life.
Hebrews 12:1 states, “…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Don’t give up,but finish the race, for much can be learned during it. We learn how faithful our God is and we learn just how strong we are. So don’t surrender what you’ve started… rather, set your face towards the finish line and pursue with determination…for God’s goal for you is closer than you think.
I’ll be the first to admit…I’m not a patient person. But patience is exactly what God wants from me. He asks that I steadfastly pray for unsaved loved ones…even if I don’t see change. He asks that I not give up on dreams He’s given me…even if it’s been years. God only asks that I be patient in my faith…unwavering in my trust of Him, as He works towards His divine purpose in my life. For if you think about it, it’s very little He’s asking.
Your Christian walk starts out on a Christ-shaped foundation…grounded in His Word…built on the solid rock of His love for you. But then starts the journey all Believers must make towards maturity. This scripture shows the progression from baby Christian to deeply rooted saint. Like a house being built on a stable foundation, each moral quality is stacked on top of the next…teaching, disciplining, and encouraging as we go. And in the end, a perfectly built structure will stand before our God.
Trials and temptations…we don’t like them. We would rather live blissfully in some kind of bubble insulated from the world and all bad stuff, but this scripture tells us otherwise. It says as Believers we need to look upon trials and temptations with happiness… because by them we are refined in the crucible of Christ …becoming more like Him everyday.