“Consider it pure joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”
Honestly now, is that our first reaction—to count it all joy? More likely, it is usually anger, bitterness, resentment, or despair. We ask, “Why me? Why now?’ What did I do to deserve this?” When we react in these ways, it lets us see how far we fall short in maturing in our Christian walk.
We may loathe the process that makes us Christ-like because of the sorrow, pain, and stress involved, but James is saying that if we try to wiggle out of the hard times prematurely, we will short-circuit the divine process and remain impatient and immature.
For the most part, the depth, duration, timing, and complexity, are beyond our control; but we can control our response. Making right choices in the midst of difficulties minimizes regrets. The 30 pieces of silver burned a hole in Judas’ heart, and in despair, he hanged himself.
Max Lucado writes:
When a potter bakes a pot he checks its solidity by pulling it out of the [furnace] and thumping it. If it “sings,” it’s ready. If it “thuds,” it’s put back. Character is also checked by thumping… Late night phone calls… grouchy teachers… burnt meals… flat tires… “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding” deadlines. Thumps trigger the worst in us… They aren’t big enough to be a crisis, but if you get enough of them, watch out. Traffic jams… long lines… empty mailboxes… dirty clothes on the floor… Thump. Thump. Thump. How do you respond? Do you sing or do you thud?
Jesus said, “People speak the things that are in their hearts” (Luke 6:45), and there’s nothing like a good thump to reveal the true nature of a heart…. It’s not in momentary heroics, but in thump-packed hum-drum of day-to-day living. If you’ve a tendency to “thud” more than you “sing,” take heart. There’s hope for us “thudders.” Begin by thanking God… not a half-hearted thank-you… but a rejoicing, jump-for-joy, thank-you from the bottom of your heart.
Each thumping helps or hurts us, depending on our attitude. Remember, thumps help us grow, and they work together for good when we love and obey God. We will be tested, so we might as well learn from the “thumps,” and welcome them as opportunities to develop patience and persistence.
Your ways, O Lord, are higher and
Your knowledge is immense;
So give us strength to trust You when
Life doesn’t make much sense. –Sper