"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
I don't have to think very long to identify reasons to be thankful. I can't even list all of them.
This week-end after Thanksgiving I am thankful that one of my bad days is still more blessed than many peoples' good days.
What a faith! What a God! What a way to live!
How can I say that? Because it is fact! James verifies it in the first few verses of his letter to the believers.
If you were writing a letter to bless and encourage struggling Christians how would you begin that letter? I am not sure I would begin it by reminding them of their sufferings but James did. And it makes sense when we think about it.
These are some of the very first believers. This Christian faith is a brand new phenomenon. They have seen the signs and wonders. They have experienced the freedom and the fellowship. All the wonderful benefits that have come from receiving Christ and joining these Christians almost seemed too good to be true. How long can this last? What am I missing here?
Now they are facing the pressures of persecution. Some of their beloved leaders have been jailed. It is risky to identify yourself as a Christ follower. Public worship is becoming a thing of the past. The heat is being turned up on every hand. BUT through these trials and tribulations they have discovered something very significant - THEIR FAITH WORKS! Everything is true! God is real! Suffering as a Christian is better than prospering as a pagan! What would have destroyed them before they believed now develops them!
What sort of faith is this! What an incredible God! What a blessing to have a faith that works! What a joy to know the truth - because the truth is in the Truth. Pain now has a purpose! Suffering now has significance! Heartache now helps me understand the heart of God!
Can I count it joy when I suffer? What sort of notion is that? Is that healthy? Is it a delusion?
No! It is the blessing we have as Christ-followers! It is real! It is His reality! "All things really DO work together for the good of those who love Him....."!
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I thank God that because He is so good and so strong and so holy that living for Him and with Him makes my worst day make sense!
How about you?