At the end of week one, James was counseling his audience to consider it joy when facing trials. This is, of course, contrary to our nature. A quote that often comes to mind when I think of my friend is attached to the bottom of his emails. It states that, “Life is not about avoiding the storms, but learning to dance in the rain.” Dancing in the rain is easy when you have someone with you and the temperature is nice and warm and the rain is welcomed. Dancing in the rain is a forced action, however, when accompanied by hail, freezing temperatures, and, all around, uncomfortable.
James wants to remind his readers that we should consider our “uncomfortableness” as joy. Then he says something that we all as parents have said; “you know that …” Being reminded of the truth can be freeing when we are ready to accept it or when we are living in agreement with it. On the other hand, the truth gets very uncomfortable when it doesn’t line up with how we are living. James proceeds to state, “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” When we stop to consider James’ words and let the truth set us free, we do realize that through the trials of life, we can develop an attitude of joy because we know we are becoming stronger and developing perseverance.
I looked up the word in the Greek for “testing.” Another word that, possibly, better describes James’ intentions is “proving.” The first thing that comes to mind when I think of this is structural integrity. With my experience in the construction industry, I can remember when the electrician would be working on a house and the joists that separate the first floor and the second floor were exposed. I remember distinctly watching a man take a drill and haphazardly drill holes through those joists so he could run wiring through them. I had no doubts that he knew what he was doing, but the thought entered my mind, “how many times can you do that before the joist is no longer structurally sound?”
When reading how trials of many kinds “proves” our faith, I realized that this is one aspect that separates us as living beings from inanimate objects. Our muscles are resilient in the fact that when we tear them to endure exercise, they rip apart but are then built up again. While a joist in a house can only take so much drilling before it is broken, God seeks to prove our faith in an effort to make us stronger. When we think we are broken is when he is ready to build us back up and be stronger than before. Something I have been pondering is if there is any other way to develop perseverance, except by testing our faith.
The rest of the week’s verses state that “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” The term “perseverance” implies a goal in mind. You can’t persevere if you are walking aimlessly. Finishing its work is the ultimate goal of perseverance. What an awesome thought! Knowing that there is a goal in mind; a light at the end of the tunnel; the end of the rainbow. Our journey doesn’t necessarily stop there, of course. We will be put through trials later on, but to know that there is a goal in mind to our sufferings and trials is very comforting. Even more so is knowing that the goal is our maturity and completeness. God desires us to not be lacking in anything.
When we look at our trials or the proving of our faith in such a way that we are reminded of a goal, it makes the process, somewhat, more bearable. Hopefully, we will always remember that God is with us. He has, not only, not forsaken us, but strongly desires that we trust in His truth in order that we might be “mature and complete.” Hopefully, at the end, we will rely on Him and his truth when the next set of trials come our way.
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.