Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.–James 1:2-4 ESV
Count it all joy…really?
To be honest with you, these verses that kick off the book of James don’t sit easy with me. How about you?
When my-take-the-easy-route way of thinking dominates, the last thing I want to do is be happy about some kind of teeth-gritting test of faith. There is an uneasy tension between understanding the value of perseverance and the reality of pushing it into practice.
Counting joy is much more fun when we tally up blessings.
It is a sheer challenge of faith to count up joy when difficulties are all we can see. However, I don’t think James is minimizing or trivializing the staggering weight of challenges. Not at all.
Counting joy in the hard things of life releases strength and faith.
God and I have had many conversations on perseverance during my quiet times over the years. He prods us deeper into the heart of God with these words. Look beyond the trial and embrace the wholeness that settles in with the after-effects of endurance.
Perfect (whole) and complete, lacking in nothing–this is the joy of perseverance.
The difficulty isn’t the joy, but what God produces in us through tests creates the cumulative joy of wholeness over time.
None of us can be complete or whole in faith, character, skill, or experience without the challenge of trials. So often, I catch myself resenting trials, dwelling on what I think God is taking away. My worshipful spirit defaults to worry and complaint. In reality, somehow God is adding, completing, strengthening through the trials that call for perseverance. This kind of math is much harder than Calculus any day.
In testing our faith, God give us opportunities to keep on, pray on, hold on, run on, press on, and count on…and He produces something magical in the process. Something powerful. Something worshipful.
Will we LET steadfastness have its full effect? That may be the biggest challenge of all.
What has God built in you through the power of perseverance?