James 1:2-4 – “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” NASB
It is powerful and troubling that James constantly instructs us to Rejoice (vv 1-2;8-9). That gives us a good barometer as to how we are doing in the midst of all. Are we having a Blue Monday (depressed), totally despondent on Tuesday wanting to give up and throw in the towel? Are we ready to kick down the walls and throw something in rage? If we are following what the Holy Spirit is directing, we are Rejoicing and filled with Joy. Ouch!
The question becomes, “How is this even possible?” Look at verse three and he says, “Knowing this…” How is it possible? It is possible, only when we know that the trial of our faith is working something in us for God and good! That produces Hope!
What is the evidence that this is transpiring in us? Consider verses 3-4 and we realize that there is Endurance in Testing. We either grow to the place in our confidence and trust of God that we rejoice and are filled with joy or we cave in, to the pressure and depression reigns. We either relax and trust Him or we become despondent, angry, jealous, etc. Those are carnal reactions and reactions that these tests and trials are seeking to help us overcome.
There is a Key Word that we dare not miss and it is used 7 times in the Book of James. (1:3-4; 5:7,8,10,11). That demands we define this word “Patience.” The Greek conveys the idea of enduring rather than giving in. It is more than a calm resignation to what seems inevitable. It does not mean to sit back with a bowed head and let things descend upon us and say, “I’ll just tough it out.” It is not sitting passively until the storm passes over. It is not adopting a “Trying to hang on mentality.” That is ‘toleration’ not ‘patience’ as used here. There is a dramatic difference and we are talking about having Divine Patience not Coping or Caving.
I hear Christians ask, “How are you coping?” My response is, “I am not simply trying to cope. I am not simply trying to hang on.” That is a worldly mentality, not a biblical one. I believe we can live above all that. Patience is not grimly waiting for the end. Patience (Hoop-o-mo-nay) is an active aggressive working in us. It is a spirit that bears all things with a blazing hope and a flaming joy. It is enduring with a victorious spirit that has Joy as its chief characteristic. That is far more than coping!
The word Patience is illustrated as the ability of a small plant to survive, flourish, and come to fruitfulness under unfavorable circumstances barraged by the tempest and storm. We are tender plants planted in the House of our Lord. His purpose is never to blow over us and destroy us but to bring us to fruitfulness and enable us to develop endurance that does not fail and never gives up. He is bringing us to fruitfulness not defeat.
It is in that condition that we can do the works of genuine faith so that people will be drawn to the Living God. We can demonstrate our faith, even in the face of severe tests and trials. It is here that we manifest an active faith and people see Jesus in our character and our works.
Then, he says, “Wanting nothing” (v 4). If you find yourself filled with frustration and unfulfilled desires and expectations and you are striving for this or that, then there is an area in which God needs and wants to work to bring you to victory. He wants us to reach a state of Divine Contentment. Remember the words of Paul in Timothy, “Contentment with godliness is great gain”?
His purpose is to bring us to a place of security in our relationship with Him and bolster our trust and confidence in Him and His promises. In that condition, no storm will overcome us because we know Who He is and Who We Are in Him. We grasp the reality of His Blood Covenant and His inability to fail. Therefore, the Goal is Perfected Character, enabling us to Rejoice in the times of trial and bring us to full maturity where we lack nothing.
The question is, “Where Are We?” I suggest these closing thoughts for our meditation:
Acknowledge – Your lack and need.
Repent – For being offended.
Realize – You cannot, in your own strength, do this, it requires the Holy Spirit.
Request – The Holy Spirit to come and help.
Renew – Your covenant commitment to God.
Honesty is an absolute requirement. Allow the Holy Spirit the total freedom to fully expose any deficiency in your thinking or character. Allow Him to point you in the right direction and as you do, you will discover the ability, through inner strength, to rejoice and become like a little lamb skipping and dancing in the face of trials. As He reveals what He wants, do it. If you fail don’t quit but get up and try again. This is a process not a one-time infusion of His strength into your life. You Grow in Grace!
God bless you as you enjoy this day in Him!