(Reprinted from Thanksgiving 2009 and painting done by me in March 2013)
I’ve been studying James 1:2-4. One day I was reading and the verse in the NIV and the words, “pure joy” captured my mind.
“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.”
So I pulled out my old Strong’s concordance and began to seek the truth-treasures from these words that tell a life-giving story…
You are the ruler of a land. One day you stand outside on your stone balcony and look out over the land. Holding your hand over the land, as if to bless it, you move your arm from one reach of land to the other furthest reach and you begin to make a declaration. Here is what you declare, “I declare it to be completely delightful, these trials that come my way, like thousands of various-looking arrows and bullets coming over the wall to assault me. All this is purely delightful!”
Unbelievably you are blessing the trials that are completely and utterly surrounding you, so that you may not take a step to the left or to the right without falling into them.
They are your only way to go. You are going to go through them and fall into them and swim in them.
And these trials are not just big trials, they are also little trials of all different sorts. They are numerous and varied, checkered with built-up stressful, life circumstances. And you are saying, “God bless it!”
Why in the world would you do that? Because in effect you are being put to proof to test the stuff from which you are made. These trials have a beneficial purpose and effect and are being divinely permitted or sent to you to perfect your character. You are finding a new level of fellowship with Christ. He is refining you into a metal of highest quality, so that you will shine and reflect Him in every way.
And that pure delight in the face of various trials? It is producing more of the same–cheerfulness, hopeful endurance, constancy, enduring patience and the ability to wait. As the onslaught continues, God is completely transforming your character. The Lord is pointing His divine purpose towards you, like an arrow full of God-infused adrenaline, aiming with the intent to continue working in you until it is utterly completed.
God will not leave you as a destitute, though. No! There is not one part or portion of these trials you now face (have faced and will one day face) that the Lord will not complete in you. He will toil in this labor to develop in you His ability, His character, His strength.
And when He is done, we can exclaim joyfully with Him, “It is finished!”
So here is my version of James 1:2-4, “Deem it wholly delightful and exceedingly joyful when you fall into manifold provocations, because you know the trying of your faith effects cheerful and hopeful endurance. Let enduring patience result in a complete toil, so that you may be full of every grace and reach Christ’s full purpose in your life, lacking nothing and without delay.”
I don’t know about you, but in my life there are some areas, where I can exclaim, “It is finished!” over a work. And there are some areas, where I am struggling to see how He is using various trials for the hurts they have caused are still tender. I guess the one thing I DO know. When I can say those words, I have grown thankful and delighted in the trials.
This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to be delighted.
I challenge you to deem it delightful. We are running this race to win it…not just finish. I cannot wait to see your shining face at the end, my friend!