Growing an Active Endurance – James 1
“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV
A key word that James uses is very discouraging to me. In verse 2, when speaking of facing “trials of many kinds,” James uses the word “whenever.” “Whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (emphasis mine). He doesn’t say “if” you face trials of many kinds. He doesn’t say, “you might” face trials of many kinds or that we would face trials, “only if you are really bad.”
James sees “trials of many kinds” as a sure thing. He sees it as inevitable – just like death and taxes! Because it is inevitable, James teaches us that trials are not a reason to be discouraged or to lose heart. Satan loves to exploit and use the trials and challenges we have to endure to overcome and overwhelm us. The enemy likes to use challenging events in life to tear us down and wipe us out as God’s kids. God wants to redeem those same situations and use those same circumstances to both strengthen our faith and deepen our roots. He wants us to redefine these crucial moments to show us how faithful He is.
While the natural reaction to facing challenging times is to be disheartened, fearful, or resigned, James encourages us to change our thinking and to change our perspective. Unlike 99% of people on planet earth, James challenges Christ followers to view trials in life as an occasion for joy. While James is not saying to rejoice that life is difficult, he is pointing out that we can and should rejoice that when we endure hard times, the testing of our faith produces endurance or perseverance. It is only in the midst of trying times that our most genuine and authentic faith is revealed. It is important to know that our faith is not produced by our trials. Our faith is tested and revealed through our trials.
While maturity comes through testing, growth is not automatic. If we allow the enemy to have his way, challenging times can produce bitterness, fear, and discouragement. James encourages believers facing hard times to rejoice in their trials because he knows that the opportunity to purify and strengthen our faith lies hidden in these moments.
It is amazing to think about this. How life changing would the church be if we took the words of James to heart? What if, when we saw frightening challenges before us, rather than shrinking back in fear, we boldly pressed forward with an active endurance? What if, in the midst of our hardest and most difficult moments, we diligently prayed and thanked God for His goodness, mercy, and presence through it? What if more believers were faithful to follow God and to obey His word, despite the challenges we faced? How different would our communities be? How much more impactful would our churches be?
Let me ask a more personal question. How would your life be different if you lived out this verse? How much more influential would your life be? How much more power would your witness have if you were more mature in your faith? How encouraging would it be for you if Jesus Himself commended you for having a faith that was “complete lacking in nothing”?
Holy Spirit, there are times that I tend to resist the challenging and redefining moments of life. There are times when I try to pray away the hardest moments of life that You allow in order to complete and strengthen my faith. Today Jesus, I don’t pray for You to remove me from the challenging seasons of life. I pray that Your Holy Spirit empower me and grow me through the most difficult of times. In the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen.