Have you ever fallen into something terrible? Generally speaking, I don’t tend to fall into pits or deep crevices, but I do sometimes fall into trials. James said this would happen if you’re a Christ-follower. We don’t go looking for trials. We don’t try to get ourselves into trouble. We fall into it. Like last Sunday night: I never saw it coming.
Now we have a choice once we’ve fallen in. Consider anger. What does this benefit? Bitterness toward God starts to grow. Mistrust in His ways and character. Consider depression. Where would that lead? A despondent spirit, full of myself, my feelings, my pity. The third option is what James tells us to do when we’ve gone in deep.
Consider joy. Not just a dash of joy, either. All joy. Pure joy. Nothing but joy. Opportunity for great joy. Full of joy. Sheer joy. Exceeding joy. We’re fortunate. We should be happy. Trials are occasions for joy.
Wow. Unlike the other non-benefits to responding otherwise, choosing joy brings a great reward. The testing of our faith produces patience, which leads to perfection, or complete maturity. Basically, we grow up when we go through trials. Our endurance has a chance to grow. We’re told by James to let it grow. Don’t hinder endurance muscles by plopping down on the couch and yelling, “Why? Why?” Another version says, Learn well to wait so you will be strong and complete and in need of nothing.
This week has been a steady dose of waiting. Plenty of opportunity to learn well. 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.
Matthew’s leg continues to heal slowly. It’s a stubborn infection, needing much rest. For my many-mile-loving-hard-working-only-stopping-to-sleep kind of guy, this has been a huge faith and endurance test. I think running one-hundred miles was easier for him than lying down all day has been. Just like when you’ve been lifting weights for a while and someone looks at you, tilts their head and says, “You look stronger!” I can see faith muscles starting to show. Let it grow. Medical or otherwise, trials are just plain hard. That is why we don’t go looking for them. We fall into them, and yet we’re not alone. As Isaiah 33:6 says, He is your constant source of stability; He abundantly provides safety and great wisdom; He gives all this to those who fear Him.