12 Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
God’s purpose is to grow us into mature children and to equip us to make disciples. The changing world we are living in distracts us from that purpose. The news is filled with grumbling voices. We have experienced a pandemic, an uncertain economy, racial unrest and being disconnected. Add your concerns to the list. So, how can we keep our focus on God’s plan for us? We need encouragement to live enthusiastically and not to sarcastically dismiss life.
In verse 12 of James 1, he tells us there is a payment waiting if we live by faith, endure with patience, and mature in character. God allows troublesome disruptions in our lives for a purpose. We need to see an opportunity in the trials we face. Do we believe God’s promises? Doubt is constantly at play in our lives when things we have counted on begin to fall apart.
When the trials of life humble us, we are made more like Jesus. He became humble and went to the cross to die for us. His life was disrupted by the shame and trials He faced courageously. If we do that, we are promised the crown of life. Social prominence, economic wealth, position and status will all pass away. Our lives changed in 2020. How suddenly things we valued seemed lost!
But our payment when Jesus comes will be the crown of life. The present-day discomforts, disruptions, unrest and fear will be replaced by a crown. That is a great incentive for us to love God through and beyond our present trials. We already have a full life if we know Christ as our Savior and Lord.
James started his writing by saying, “Consider it a great joy…whenever you experience various trials.” If you live through the trials with joy, you will end up with joy when Jesus comes. The choice is yours: will you live your life growing or grumbling?
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Examine your conversations to see if you are growing or grumbling.
- List ways you are disciplining yourself by reading God’s Word and exercising your faith.
- Pray for God to make you an encourager for a friend who is living in doubt.
Get a treat or small prize and wrap it up in tape. You can use one type of tape or a variety for this activity. Continue to circle the item with tape as you start to create a ball. As the tape continues, add little additional treasures along the way (i.e. a quarter, sticker, toy, wrapped up nothings, etc.) Continue to make the ball of tape bigger and bigger with these items spread out throughout the way (with the biggest prize at the center of the ball). When you have your ball created you can start your activity.
Start with one person holding the ball and have them unravel it. Set a timer for 15 seconds and any treasures they unravel during their time is theirs to keep. After the timer goes off, move the ball to the next person and repeat until someone gets the prize at the very end. For more competitive teams, have people in place to be distractions in order to keep them from getting to the prize.
During this activity, what kinds of obstacles did you run into? Was it frustrating at times? What kept you going? How did it feel when you were so close but had to turn the ball over to someone else?
What if we were to send a tithe of our church family to the nations to share the gospel? Pray for yourself, your family, our brothers and sisters—all ages—to be responsive to the Great Commission in willingness to go, even to the point of moving across the world to use bring the gospel to those who haven’t heard.