September 3, 2015
READ: James 1:2-17
You know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (vv.3-4).
Roger Bannister was considered the favourite for the 1500m race at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. He planned to retire if he won gold, but an unusual schedule at the Games affected his chances and he came in fourth. Instead of quitting, however, his disappointment spurred him on to continue competing. Two years later he went on to change sporting history. On 6 May 1954, at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, England, Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in less than 4 minutes.
James encourages us to use our disappointments and difficulties as an opportunity for our faith to be tested and for our endurance to grow (James 1:3). And when patience is allowed to grow and becomes fully developed, we become “perfect and complete” and need “nothing” (v.4).
Slogging our way through difficult times with a sour demeanour and a self-pitying attitude won’t develop the character God desires to see in us. As we joyfully and patiently withstand times of testing and temptation, we also experience His blessing (v.12).
God places little value on achievements and wealth, as they can fail to produce humility and endurance (vv.10-11). Instead He lifts up those who have been humbled by their difficult circumstances; they will receive the crown of life that God promises to those who love Him (vv.9,12). Although we may despise pain and difficulty, God can use it for our good—part of the good and perfect things He provides to make us more like Himself (v.17).
Had Roger Bannister given up following the Helsinki Games, he would never have gone on to become the man who broke the 4 minute mile. In God, we find all we need to grow through disappointment.
365-day-plan: Matthew 22:1-14
Read Hebrews 12:1 for more on the joy of growing through difficult circumstances.
What disappointments are you facing? How might God use them to help grow and deepen your faith?