” … You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1: 3-4 MSG)
When I see “lacks nothing,“ I’m quick to think thoughts of billionaires and such. To no surprise, God sees this a little differently. A lot differently …
Our wacky perspective relates to one of God’s calling cards. Take your thoughts on something, think about the polar opposite, and wham! God’s thoughts. Perhaps that’s oversimplified – but we know His thoughts are much higher. We also know that He is good. Every moment, always.
Knowing this goodness, I asked myself, “would you generally be less anxious if you could see into the future?” Truth is, I probably would be. However, it seems like seeing into the future would make my faith an accessory. “And without faith it is impossible to please God … ” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). I want to please God. I need to want it more. But praise God that He is more than able and fully desires to work all good things in and through us! I trust Him.
All of my chatter sort of brings us to patience, perseverance, and the trials of life. “Trial” has an assortment of negative connotations. I think about O.J. Simpson, courtrooms, and prison. But God (two powerful words) is eager to change the way we think about and experience trials.
Slightly-but-not-really-off-topic, I recently had the pleasure of seeing the Broadway show, “Motown: The Musical.” In the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, black artists from the Motown label were writing songs about joy, hope, and unity – yet they were being pressed from every side. That’s a good way to face a trial.
What’s Going On
James said we should welcome such trials – to consider them opportunities (‘for great joy’) and gifts. Gifts! Now compare ‘gifts’ with O.J., court rooms, and prison. My first thoughts need a serious overhaul. Many of my thoughts do!
Matthew 5:48 (NIV) says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Hold it. God knows we can’t live up to this – only Jesus (two more powerful words).
In short, the Spirit of Jesus lives on the inside of the Believer. If that’s true, and I believe that it is, then it is totally possible for us to be perfect. Our Spirits are perfect – our minds … well, they lean towards rubbish.
Looking back at the opening verse from James 1: ” … not deficient in any way (MSG) … you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (NLT). But only IF … we welcome trials. IF … we value endurance over a magic 8-ball. Trials, and only trials produce this endurance that is apparently a huge deal. Bummer, right? No! Joy. Opportunity. Welcomed.
Not to mention that trials are a time we fellowship and partnership with Jesus Himself.
So, bring on the tests! The trials! The oppression! Err…
Persevering through trials is a lot like prayer. Especially how Jesus describes prayer in Luke 11:9-10 (NLT): “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
“Jesus tells His disciples to keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking—three levels of prayer, each requiring perseverance”
- “Knocking is the kind of prayer that seeks the face of God rather than the hand of God“
- “Every form of prayer takes persistence. Not because God must be worn down or won over, but because He is working out a process in us that will wean our hearts from any desire except for God Himself“
“Prayer is not for quitters. It doesn’t work like a vending machine—put in a prayer, take out an answer. God has much more to accomplish through our prayers than just giving us ‘stuff ‘ “
I feel like those quotes are sound. And really, just beautiful. Prayer is not for quitters. Enduring trials and praying for enemies, with joy, is not for quitters. The Christian life is not for quitters.
Sometimes I’m Dumb
I try to create my own miracles. I believe that’s possible in certain situations, but I’m referring to acting as if I know better than God. I’ll do all that is within my power to avoid, or end a trial. Just yesterday I imagined a few “good things to do” in the interest of ‘progressing’ something miraculous in my life. Dear God: You drive.
My input is not needed, necessary, or at all helpful. I guess I’d rather be momentarily satisfied – and generally deficient – instead of moving toward Him.
Too often I am telling God – through my actions, not my intentions or beliefs – that I know better than Him.
Man, some days. Some days I am practically atheist.
On others, the One Who lives within me can be clearly seen. Some days, it’s both.
“You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way“ (James 4:4 MSG)
But God … He is faithful. Blessings …