By Alli T
Tonight JP brought it again as he started a series on the book of James.
Main point that I came away with: COMPLETENESS!!
So a little background on the book of James: It was written by James. Found after the book of Hebrews and before 1 Peter. He wrote to give Jewish Christians facing persecution instruction on how to prepare and get through trials when they come.
Key word above: WHEN. Looking at the verbiage of the text, it doesn't say 'if' trials happen, but 'when'. JP even pointed out that they are not just promised to come, but come in all shapes, sizes, color, and style. Awesome. - ok, sarcasm in the awesome aside, it really is awesome. You're probably thinking, what? This girl is nuts. Now let me expand.
So here's the deal. James says that trials will happen; that there will be some horrible things in life that come your way. You might have never thought you would have to deal with the death of a loved one, the divorce, the miscarriage, the betrayal, the cancer, the addiction, the disease, the loneliness, the unemployment, the unforeseen happenstances of life. However, throughout the text he gives us instruction on how to persevere through these trials and how ultimately they are for our good. …. Hold that thought. We will come full circle here in a second on how they are for our good.
James first shows that our attitude in trails needs to be that of all encompassing joy. Not misery, complaining, self-pity in the midst of it - and joy once you have weathered the storm, but joy throughout!
Secondly, James shows us the advantage of trials. As a runner, I was able to relate to the analogy of training for a marathon. You must push yourself to see improvement. You must try to run the set distance faster, or go for a longer run. The pain that is felt during the training will be outweighed by the joy of knowing that you are becoming a better, faster, stronger runner and that it will show in the race. Now convert that to our race analogy to your life. Take a second to think about how __(trial)__ is making you __(positive word)__.
The third tool James gives us is what to use as assistance during trials. He is clear. Ask God to help us, to help us learn what we need to become that better/faster/stronger/... Christ follower. Also, we are to live in Christian fellowship so that we can have honest and open friends to pray for us, encourage us, and speak God's truth into our lives when we are in the midst of trials.
Now rewind to that thought I said hold onto and we will come back to. Now is the time to revisit the crazy statement I made above that That these trials are or our ultimate good. So how are these trials for our good?
Why do we even need the tools above, if we could get by without having to endure trials at all? God doesn't desire us to be mediocre people. He wants me to be the best me, and for you to be the best you. So God, in his sovereign, all knowing, power, allows situations to arise that he knows will make us grow into more complete people. Let’s revist vs 12: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” It all comes back to Hope.