“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
James 1:2-3 (NIV)
It was one of those dreaded nights. Our family of five had been hit with the stomach virus.
At some point in the night, I mustered all my strength and changed into a shirt I found lying on the floor. The room was dark so I had no idea what I was changing into, but anything was better than my current dirty shirt situation.
The next morning, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Where did this shirt come from? With brightly colored letters, it simply read “I was made for this.”
Why would I be made for this?
Although I knew this was just a random shirt I found in the middle of the night, this thought of being made for sleepless nights, sickness and tireless caregiving bothered me.
In James, we see a familiar passage encouraging for those facing hard times. James 1:2-3 (NIV) says this: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Something we easily forget in this passage is the thought of how our faith produces perseverance.
These small, pesky trials, such as overcoming the stomach bug, are needed to build our perseverance. They prepare us to endure greater trials we will face.
As I looked at my reflection that morning, the stomach virus wasn’t the only thing bothering me. The greater trial I was facing was a recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
I didn’t want to be made for living with Multiple Sclerosis. My greatest burden was the question of how to take care of myself and my kids.
My greatest frustration was a question with which we often wrestle: Why does a God allow such sickness and suffering?
Was I made for this pain and suffering? Does God let us suffer? Why does God let me suffer?
Is God even real?
Is God even real? This is the ultimate question I had to answer for myself.
When we find ourselves asking these questions, we usually also find ourselves at a crossroad. We either grow in our beliefs about God, or we walk away.
Trials test our faith. They are designed to produce spiritual maturity. The perseverance we build during trials is meant to help us find a real, genuine belief in God. A God who is real through the good times, and the bad.
James 1:4 (NIV) says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The book of James is thought to be written to a group of Christian believers who were suffering religious persecution, displacement and famine. James encourages these early believers to allow these trials to grow their faith.
He explains in James 1:4 how the hardships they endure will grow their faith into spiritual maturity. It’s in this place of growth that we become complete.