2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. — James 1:2-4
by Melissa Hayes
As I write this devotional, I'm sitting at the feet of my loved one in a dark hospital room. The struggle and pain are very real. The ups and downs of recovery and the reality of what lies ahead make it difficult to see great joy in the moment. Vince Lombardi once said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." My hope is this circumstance will produce endurance, maturity, completeness and reliance on God, rather than the opposite.
Jesus felt both physical and emotional pain on the cross as He cried out "ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" (Mark 15:34). Temporarily abandoned by His Father as He bore the sin of the world, He screamed out in agonizing separation. And for what? So that in moments of pain, we don't have to be cowards. We don’t have to be separated from Christ, because He has already walked that journey of aloneness for us.
It seems counterintuitive to be joyful in “various trials.” I don’t think being joyful, putting on a happy face, is what James is trying to say here. Rather, he means considering it a joy, because without the trial, your faith won’t be tested, and you won’t build endurance, grow or mature in your faith.
Before a silversmith touches silver, identified ore is blasted away from rock and brought to the refinery as rough-edged chunks that don’t look like much. Through a series of crushers, the rock is pulverized and then given chemicals baths. When the silversmith finally receives the ore, he pours it into a crucible and fires it in the hottest flame. It melts down, and as the heavier silver falls to the bottom, the dross rises to the top and can be skimmed off. He repeats the process until the silver reaches the desired purity. When the silversmith sees his reflection in the liquid, like a mirror, he knows it has reached the purest form possible.
We are the silver, and God is the silversmith. When others look at you, do they see a reflection of Jesus Christ?
- What is crushing you today? What is your first reaction when going through suffering? Is it “Why me, Lord?” and maybe ignoring God? Or do you turn to prayer and worship, embracing the pain and believing the fire in your life will purify your heart?
- Who in your life can you identify that will encourage you, point you to God and be a reflection of Jesus Christ? How can they help you give your best to God?
- James said our trials will result in us “lacking nothing.” Do you look forward to the maturity Christ promises, where you not only lack nothing, but where you are also able to give to others out of your overflow?
God has called us all to reflect Him so that others will know about His love. As a family, make a list of how you can reflect God this week to others around you. To help remind the family about reflecting God, make a sign that asks the question, “How will you reflect God today?” Tape that sign on the mirror in the bathroom. As you get ready in the mornings, think through your day and pray for God to help you be a reflection for Him.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.