James Chapter One is a great chapter about staying true to the faith, to the Word, and to ourselves as we work on growing our lives as Christians. When we look around in the world we often become distracted from our faith. We hear and see stories about wars, tornadoes, hurt, and depression worldwide. At home, many of us are still feeling the effects of a slumped economy, getting wrapped up in the Left vs. Right politics hoping that man is capable of producing a solution to problems they have created. We find ourselves looking to one another in these times of distress. We hang on every word of the pundit, every word of the politician, and every word of man. We often find that we are quicker to question God’s work in our lives than we are to just breathe and take the trials with His help.
When we struggle, we are told to demonstrate perseverance and get through the trial. Perseverance is often thought of as a trait that comes from ourselves. As in, something in our mind is going to just magically click on and make us think that everything is better, the path will become clearer, and the trial will just dissolve. The Bible teaches in James 1:2-4 that perseverance is ggiven from God through our faith in Him.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV).
What this passage is working to get across is that, if we stay true to our belief in God and lean on Him in times of trials and trouble sin our lives, He will help us to gain perseverance and carry on through the difficulties facing us. I would argue that perseverance itself is a gift of God given this passage. We are taught in church just about every Sunday that we are God’s children. On the surface, we would agree that God created us and that is what makes us His children. While that thought is accurate, we need to dive deeper. Think about how a child acts and values things. Children place a great deal of value into material possesions. Whether its toys, games, or desserts, children want the biggest, newest, and best things. When things don’t go their way, most children throw a fit. We, as Christians, are the same as a child. We put value in our money and our material possesions. We enjoy things going our way and hit cruise control for while, totally ignoring God is even present in our lives. Then we hit a problem and come to God wanting to know why we are going through a difficult time and why things aren’t going our way.
Simply put, things are never meant to go our way. God created us to serve His purpose for our lives. Our ways are wicked. Recall Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (NIV). Everything we do for our own purpose is filthy, the only thing that makes anything we do clean and pure is God’s work through us. We need to get away from the idea that behaving and doing good deeds are enough to call ourselves Christians. We need to start dedicating ourselves to God’s way and show those who don’t know God just how wonderful He really is.
This passage in James is right, we should be thankful that in our trials, God will help us if we let Him, and He will show us the path we should be on. We, as man, are incapable of 100% remaining strong in faith and level headed enought to follow God’s plan to the letter. There in, we will be in and out of trials our entire lives. We will be constantly tested to have our faith deepened. And through our deepened faith, we will achieve a greater level of perseverance. Staying strong and confident during a trial is very difficult, but believing that God is present in our lives and strengthening our faith in Him provides everlasting comfort that no man can provide.