The Everyday Girl Guide to: James and My Life (James 1:2-4)

June 13, 2013

I make no claims of being a great Bible scholar.  Sometimes, I think I really don’t need to be.  I read the Bible and stuff just jumps up, tackles me to the floor, and sits on me until I can’t miss it.  You would think after 30-some years of reading it and going through it several times completely, I would get past these “BOO!” moments, but it never happens.

Now I’m reading through James and it’s speaking exactly into my life, just as it is right now.  Life’s been a bit rocky for the last four years, so any help making it to the next step is to be cherished, treasured, and passed on.

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] 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.

Alright, let’s start with the obvious: joy.  Not just joy, but pure joy.  Do you know what I reserve joy for?  Going to the beach with my kids on a perfect summer day and no one else is there, the waves are perfect, and a gentle breeze is blowing.  Pure joy is when my kids bless me by not fighting once the whole time we’re there.

I don’t encounter pure joy very often… and I certainly don’t equate it with trials!  Still, Paul apparently felt the need to tell me to count my trials as pure joy.  Um, Paul, we may not experience joy the same way.

Okay, not true.  Like any other emotion, joy is a choice.  I can choose to be joyful… or choose to be grumpy.  So, apparently, when I’m in the midst of trials, I am supposed to choose joy.  I thought the verses about controlling my temper were tough!

There is a great line in the movie After Earth: “Danger is real.  Fear is a choice.”  I have to agree; dwelling on any emotion, no matter what it is, is a choice.  That flash of joy/fear/anger/love that first shows up may be involuntary, but holding onto it, nurturing it or letting it go… that’s my choice.

So, I need to choose joy during trials.  But why?

the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1:3b)

Perseverance is definitely the key word here.  I thought I knew what it meant, but decided to look it up anyway.

per·se·ver·ance  

/ˌpərsəˈvi(ə)rəns/

 
Noun
  1. Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
  2. Continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.
 
Synonyms
persistence – tenacity – pertinacity – assiduity

When I first read this, I was kind of excited.  It sounds to me like perseverance is a lot like stubborness (tenacity is stubborn persistence, right?).  Then I re-read it and some of the excitement faded.  Perseverance isn’t really like stubborness… it’s like patience.  Like Indiana Jones, I feel compelled to say, “Patience.  Why’d it haveta be patience?”

Alright, once again, there are benefits to it.  If you persevere, then there is success at the end.  Better yet, though, is the second part of the definition: continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.

Okay, this one I can grab hold of and run.  I would love to be in a state of grace that leads to a state of glory.  Suddenly these trials just might seem joyful after all, especially if I let it run its course so that I may be “mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

(Excuse me just a moment as my childlike inner self tries to run away from that word: mature.)

One of these days, I’m going to heaven.  When I get there, I want to be a full-grown Christian, not a Christian infant.  I want to be complete and ready to spend my time in worship of this amazing God who’s made me who I am and forgiven me for my big life OOPSes.  If trials lead to perseverance and perseverance leads to me being made complete… bring on the trials.  I’m not ready for them, no.  But each trial will make me a little more ready for the next one, a little stronger for the next battle, and a little more able to share what I have learned so others can grow as well.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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