From the book of James:
Consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure.
But be sure your endurance carries you all the way, without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should pray to God, who will give it to him; for God gives generously and graciously to all.
But you must believe when you pray, and not doubt at all.
For whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind. Any such person must not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, for he is unsure and undecided in every step he takes.
Wow. I am completely struck by these powerful words.
As I rewrote this passage I broke it apart to help reflect on each segment with emphasis. I’ve re-read it more than a dozen times now. The impact of understanding these words is possibly beyond my comprehension. There is a lot going on in this message.
James is not the only reference in the Bible that talks about the benefit of trials and the resulting endurance that is advantageous. The idea of going through trials and having to endure sounds a bit negative. How can tough times be good for me?
As scary as it may sound, the way the verse is written implies to me trials will come from any number of directions…and we are fortunate to have that. Not sure I’m buying it yet. However the statement isn’t complete at being fortunate when trials come your way. It flows into the idea of having to have faith and it is with that faith that you can face your trials resulting in greater endurance.
Why do we need that greater endurance? Perhaps God is being compassionate because He knows that trials are inevitable in our sinful world. He is providing us the directions for dealing with them. As more trials come along and we trust in the Lord, the more it takes to get us agitated about them.
When I was in college we had to take a swimming test or class to graduate. I know it sounds bizarre, but it was true. Most people took the test. I decided to take the class. I wasn’t a great swimmer and I wanted the exercise so it was a great way to improve and try to keep in shape. From the beginning we had to do laps. I won’t even tell you how few laps I was actually able to accomplish at the start. Let’s just say I was in the bottom of the pack. However, the more I did it, the greater my endurance became and the more laps I was able to swim. I kept improving and quickly. With that, I totally get the idea of endurance and to be good at it you have to practice over and over and over again.
So now I’m getting that I must have trials to enact my faith to build my endurance to have greater faith so I can get through more trials. I’d really prefer the no trials route, but our imperfect world will not allow for that.
Trials are going to happen. Endurance will be built and in doing so you will be perfect, complete and lacking nothing. God will give you what you need. He is generous. The important thing is to believe with all your heart that God will provide for you. You mustn’t have a doubt about that. Without faith in His ability things will be rocky. If endurance is hard He says pray to me. I will give you the wisdom you need. However, you MUST believe I can do it.
I look back at key times in my life where I faced enormous trials, but I didn’t believe. I didn’t face the challenge head on. The result was that I didn’t feel I could endure. I stumbled and faltered. I went through tremendous pain…until I finally gave in and said to God- you win. It’s in your hands. When I got that far…surprise…the waves were calmed. God makes sure I have at least everything I need. It may not be everything I want….thank you for that, God.
It is at these times that I find a peace that passes all human understanding. I free]myself from the chains of doubt. I can make sound decisions and logical choices. I use the skills that God created in me to move closer to His purposes.
Don’t be surprised by your trials . But you are not alone by any means. A power much greater than anyone or anything around you is in force. Follow Him. Pray. Push through and endure all the way to the end. Do not doubt in Him. In this way you will be perfect and complete- lacking nothing. Bring it on!