Rejoice in Suffering: James 1:1-4

May 1st, 2009

James 1:1-4

1:1.  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
 1:2.  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
 1:3.  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
 1:4.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

 

Before I get started, just a quick note. This nonth I'll be trying yet another different approach to a daily devotion. I'm using the book of James. Why? I don't know. Sometimes God just plants a boook in my mind to read and study, and so here we are. There are 5 chapters in this small book. My goal is to stay in one chapter per week, but that plan may change as I look at each section of it at a time. For now, let's get started with the first part of James Chapter 1.

 

Rejoice in Suffering

 

What a contridiction of terms, 'rejoice' and 'suffering.' To rejoice is to be happy, glad, be bouncing around with joy. Suffering is never a fun ordeal. In these early days the trials and testing that were experienced often actually led to some form of death for Christians. What is there to be joyful about? The hard ordeal  that we pass through results in a beneficial, valuable product. One that is complete, or perfect, or finished.

I have never been fond of running. To me it should only be done for two occasions. When someone is chasing you, or when you are being chased. Now, if I were to leave it to that, which I have for many years now, if the demand to suddenly run was placed on me, I'd probably not get very far, or very fast. Running is such hard work. It makes your feet hurt, your knees hurt, it makes sweat pop out all over, and even makes your heart and lungs hurt as you are forced to take in large amounts of oxygen. Very unpleasant business.

At one time in my life, I was in the military. Can you believe it? They made me get up early in the morning! And for waht? To run! What a way to start a day. It didn't matter if it was cold, or rainy, and it's rarely sunny and warm at 6 in the morning. Sometimes we would wait until later in the day and run in the middle of the afternoon. Just when the sun is at its highest in the sky and hottest. The best time of the day for me was when the barracks was in view and the run was over.

Once the running was over, it suddenly seemed not so bad. I actually felt better for doing it. It was keeping me prepared and tuned up for some day when somebody just might be chasing me that I might not want to get caught by. It kept my heart and lungs healthy. It built up not only physical strength, but mental endurance. I had the confidence in my abilities should a crisis arise. Just as many, if not more good came from

In life, bad things do and will happen. Especially for those who believe in God, they happen. The first thing to do is to try to avoid thinking that you are the only one this happens to, you're not. Don't feel guilty when something happens due to no fault of your own Nobody is picking on you, God hasn't forsaken you. Face up to the trial and testing. Getting patience isn't fun. Recognize it for what it is and keep focused on God.

The test is like my run. Not fun, and the source of agony and complaint. The patience is the willingness to do it any, stick it out and see the thing through. That patience involves some mental excersize. Focusing on something. During a run, it might be maintaining a distance from the guy in front of you, or keeping one foot in front of the other, holding a steady rhythm. In trials and testing, use God as that focus.

When it's all done, the lasting strength, endurance, and confidence that you made it through will put you a little step closer to developing a strong relationship with God. We don't have to be joyful for the test, but for what the outcome will be.

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