Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, 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 nothing. James 1:2-4
I didn’t have a very good week. The first day of my much awaited month off started with an extreme gallbladder attack, though I didn’t know what it was for a day. Day two involved having it removed. Day 5, I hit a deer, smashing our car and causing the airbags to go off. Our deductible from our health insurance will cost up to $8000 out of pocket.
Different versions use the words perseverance, endurance and patience instead of steadfastness. So, be joyful when troubles come your way, and be steady, persevering, patient, and not crumbling like a cheap card table. Somehow our trials and troubles, given their full effect, will make us mature, perfect, complete and lacking nothing.
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul said that they thought they were going to die and didn’t think they could endure. But then he said it happened so that they would not rely on themselves, but on God who raises the dead. Paul was saying there was a purpose in his suffering, which was so that he wouldn’t rely on himself, but on God. I’ve been saving extra money away, dreaming of retiring from my job which has gotten more grueling for several reasons, including me getting older. And in a snap that money goes toward something else. Perhaps God wants me to rely on Him and not my own resources.
God also wants to produce in us a wholehearted faith. He values that so much that He may, in His love, take away all the other things that we might be tempted to rely on. In my case, maybe it was money. God’s aim is that we grow deeper and stronger in our confidence of Him, knowing that He’s all we need.
Finally, God wants our faith to be strong. Being joyful when troubles come is a reaction that is counter our own emotional response. Being steady and unwavering because God is our refuge in times of trouble can be a showcase for those around us to see His life at work in us. Satan stood before God saying that Job’s faith was really because he was so rich and prosperous. God responded by making a wager that if all of the stuff was gone, Job would still worship Him. Job proved that his faith wasn’t built on all of the stuff, but that he worshiped God because God is worth it.
Job’s faith was strong because God planted it in him, just like He did in Moses and the other Hall of Famers, and just like He does in us. He will grow and build our faith, even protect it. Jesus told Peter that in Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, Simon, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”
So take heart in your trials, making them a source of your joy. God will use those troubles to cause us to rely on Him, and to show us that He’s all we need. When we let God do His work in us through our struggles, He grows us. God protects our faith even when we are sifted like wheat by Satan. And in the end, it is “He who keeps us from falling and will present us blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy.”