There are days that just seem hard to put one foot in front of the other. Like today… the end of the third stanza of the Migraine Waltz. Thankfully the drumbeat of this particular version isn’t as bad as some that roll over me with ferocity. But still the ‘music’ plays with a persistent drone that interrupts my thoughts, derails my productivity.
I realize that there are many people who live in constant pain and struggle with difficulty every hour of their existence, so I would never enter in to a place of comparison. I only mention it to say that I can also recognize the specter of discouragement that can loom large at times.
But quitting isn’t really an option according to the New Testament. Instead, James helps us redefine the work of difficulty from God’s perspective and pushes us to embrace the combination of faith and perseverance.
Read the words that begin James’ letter to Jewish believers in Jesus in the first century. As you move through these two verses, remember that he wrote to people who were scattered from their homeland and undergoing great persecution that often costed them their lives.
Consider it pure joy … whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” and that “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3-4)
Did you catch the interconnected relationship James presents there?
Testing leads to perseverance which leads to maturity.
That means, that when we respond to adversity correctly, it becomes a stepping stone to faith. But conversely, if we fail to respond in faith when the difficulties come, then we short-circuit our maturing process. James is so convinced of the value of maturity that he says we should even have joy when we realize what God is up to in our lives.
I know, it seems crazy to think about rejoicing about things that are painful and tough, but we can go through hardship with the right attitude when we understand the benefit that’s waiting on the other side.
People do this in a physical sense all the time. I mean, you probably even know someone personally who has voluntarily chosen to undergo some kind of uncomfortable medical procedure in order to reach the goal of health and vitality later. The prospect of short-term pain ends up being worth the results that are promised in the long run.
And even though we don’t like suffering, maintaining God’s viewpoint helps us get through the days when we’d rather give up and stay in bed. And instead of just enduring the things that come our way, if we alter our perspective and see the events of our lives as a part of maturity, we can, indeed, learn to rejoice.