“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.” (James 1:2-4)
I love how James ties trials, faith, perseverance, maturity, and joy. Our trials, he explains, test our faith and develop our ability to persevere. The dictionary defines perseverance as steadfastness, determination and, my favorite, staying power. Staying power – the diligence, commitment and muscle to stay, to endure, not to flee, to hang in there. Perseverance gives us the power to stay in our circumstance, standing firm in that uncomfortable, painful or devastating place until we can rise above it. I don't know about you, but I want more staying power. I want to be fully equipped in hardship so that I may continue to stand and not fall.
James reminds us that this process of increasing our staying power matures us, that we may be “complete, not lacking anything.” He's not referring to material provision here; he's talking about our emotions, our relationships, our spiritual life – our inner life. Perseverance strengthens our inner being, where our emotions, thoughts, and will reside. We become wiser and more mature as we persevere. Like a tree that sways in the storm but remains standing, our roots dig deeper and grow stronger when we resolve to stand firm through trials. As we grasp the transformation taking place within us through difficulties, we learn to rejoice in the midst of them. We discern a noble and good purpose in our suffering, and this awareness transforms it – and us.
"Finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means." (2 Corinthians 8:11) Perseverance helps us "finish the work," and it is our trials that help us develop this virtue. May we all remember this when we face adversity and learn to rejoice in the midst of it, thanking God for making us whole and helping us stand.
For more encouragement, listen to the song Blessings and read Contentment: Good for the Soul and Evidence of Trust.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Adversity's Gift: Perseverance
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