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 (ESV)
We often cite the Bible’s instruction to “consider it pure joy” when we face trials, but I believe there’s something important being said immediately afterward that is easy to miss. We could read this passage and take from it that our trials mature us.
But we’d be wrong.
Our trials DO NOT produce maturity. They produce perseverance, and our perseverance results in maturity. I would submit even that our trials don’t produce perseverance as much as they provide us the opportunity to persevere. Perseverance is the key.
But it’s also optional. Too often in our trials we look for the shortcut out instead of steadily walking through it in the way God leads us. That’s when we repeat the trial, because He intended that as an opportunity for growth and we robbed ourselves. So, because He loves us, He gives us another shot at maturity.
When a young man’s temptations with a girl try him, persevering in righteousness will mature him to be a good husband. Giving in will take him too quickly to places he’s not yet mature enough to handle. Excessive drinking is a shortcut for many to deal with trials, and it’s fruit is obvious. We can choose to lean on a credit card to quickly get us out of financial trouble instead of stewarding our money the way God instructs. We can lose our patience in a frustrating situation and yell or even become violent, because humility and the preferring of others takes too long.
Such choices only delay and often multiply our trials without yielding ANY maturity. It’s pretty obvious that our trials don’t produce maturity, but they DO give us opportunity to persevere in righteousness. So…
Never give up! Never give in! The trial will soon pass… and then give way to the next one. To think we can coast through life skipping over our hardships is a self deception. Part of life is constant training. Why?
“…so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.”