ODJ: endure towards joy

July 8, 2014 

READ: James 1:1-8 

When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow (v.3).

When people become comatose, one of the many concerns is to keep their muscles from degenerating. Atrophy sets in quickly when there is no movement. On the other hand, most exercise trainers will tell you that muscle grows after it has been under stress. Strenuous exercise makes small tears in the muscle tissue. As it heals, the muscle grows stronger or larger than it was before the ordeal. Some pain is necessary for our bodies to retain vigour.
The apostle James spoke of the need for enduring hardship and pain so that we will grow “perfect and complete” (James 1:4). God intends for us to grow into whole (“complete”) people, healed of our sorrows and our brokenness. To get there, however, we’ll encounter difficulty. The path to healing requires patience and grace.

This is why James wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (v.2). We shouldn’t mistake this for a trite dismissal of the dark places of our life—as if we shouldn’t feel despair or grief. James doesn’t discount the evil done to us or forget the sorrow that grips us. Rather, his confident words declare that evil and sorrow, even with their vicious power, do not win in the end.

James could make this bold declaration because he knew that “when faith is tested, [our] endurance has a chance to grow” (v.3). Each of us must face fundamental questions: Who are we really? What do we truly believe? What will we live for? How will we love?

In times of struggle we can experience God’s grace emboldening our faith. This paves the way for joy found in the realisation that we’ve been set free from the terrors of this world. —Winn Collier

365-day plan› Matthew 12:22-50

Read Romans 5:1-5. How does Paul describe the seasons when we experience trials and hardship? How does Paul describe the fruit of these experiences? 
Where is your endurance and your faith being tested right now? Ask God to embolden your vision for—and your faith in—the assurance that He will ultimately give you real joy.