Sunday, June 10, 2007

He Said When, Not If

Notice: he said when, not if.

I am speaking of James and the sentence he wrote in the opening verses of his letter. He wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when, you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1.2).

Encouraging? James intended for his words to be encouraging. James was a wise fellow (of course, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit). He knew that life was not a bed of roses, even for . . . rather, especially for people of faith. After all, roses tend to have thorns.

My life has had its share of thorny moments, and I know that your life has, too. Many of my troubles have been self-inflicted. I have acted foolishly more times than I can count. Many of my troubles, though, have been the result of outside influences and forces beyond my control.

Life in this fallen world (yes, we still live in a world dominated by sin) is, at times, difficult and trying. After all, didn’t Paul once write something about “flaming darts”? And, didn’t Peter say something about a lion on the loose? And, didn’t Jesus warn of a world that “hates” and stands opposed to the person of faith?

James’s words serve as a warning; a gentle, yet direct, reminder that life can be rough. He wants us operating under no false illusions. He wants us to be prepared.

The thorny moments can be character-building, if we allow them to be. James continued to write, “. . . for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (vv. 3-4).

Perspective. Attitude. Faith. We give impetus to these qualities during the thorny moments of life. These are not responses manipulated by another. We hold the reigns, so to speak.

Bitterness. Confusion. Despair. Unfortunately, these are the qualities to which we most often surrender ourselves during our thorny experiences. These, too, are not manipulated by another. We’re holding the reigns.