“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12
Remaining steadfast is all about perseverance – through trying situations and especially in relationships. Marriage, it’s been said, is meant to make us holy, not happy. Grrr. This rubs against all my idealistic romance-writer sensibilities. If you’re like me, you carry around lovely little snow-globe images of what relationships should look like, whether they be with our spouses, children, friends, co-workers, or whoever. And if you’re like me, you nurture and polish those images all the time, worshiping and perfecting them.
But if I’m honest with myself I have to recognize that all of life is meant to make me holy, not happy. All I have to do is peruse a few flannel-board Bible stories to see that. No snow-globes there. Amy Carmichael once wrote this to someone who had prayed for her healing:
“No good thing will He withhold from them that live a godly life.”
Amy wondered whether He’d prefer that the emphasis were on making sure we didn’t miss any good thing that might come from the illness, instead of: ‘Health is a good thing. Lord, give it.’” – Quoted from Candles in the Dark
Father God, let me respond to the stresses of life and relationship in ways that make me more holy.
“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:4, ESV
Oswald Chambers says the remnants of the earthly life are apt to make us slovenly. “Slovenliness is an insult to the Holy Ghost,” he says in My Utmost for His Highest.
“There should be nothing slovenly, whether it be in the way we eat and drink, or in the way we worship God.”
Ouch! When I study historical Christian writings while homeschooling my daughters, I come across many more warnings against idleness and slovenliness than I do in modern writings and teachings. Hmm . . . By nature, I’m a pretty lazy person. Gluttonous, too, if I’m fully honest. While I’m praying for Christians facing horrifying persecution around the globe, I can actually be distracted by anything that causes the slightest discomfort while I pray.
Lord God, forgive my slovenly focus on comfort and worldly things. Give me a heart that’s devoted to heaven.
More later . . .
“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
I read these verses to my five-year-old daughter Megan this morning and asked if she felt joy the last time she scraped her knee and needed a band-aid. “No,” she replied, laughing. But according to my ESV Study Bible, these verses are a call to understand suffering from the vantage point of confidence in God’s sovereignty. Trials can be considered pure joy only when we recognize they’re designed by God for a purpose—tests of faith given in order to develop perseverance, which produces mature Christian character. Do I praise God only when I receive pleasant blessings from His hand? Do I want it to be said of me, like Satan predicted of Job, that I would curse God if He took away all He’s given me?
Lord, let my worship not be based on what You give me but on Who and What You are.
More later . . .