1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. -James 1:1-4 (NKJV)
Have you even been watching a DVD and decided to fast forward through a section of the movie? Sometimes it’s nice to be able to skip through a part we don’t want to watch or have seen before. Consider there is no fast forward option for life. Have you ever found yourself wishing there was a fast forward for the problems we face? Many times when facing some new dilemma or difficulty I find myself thinking how nice it would be if I could just skip this part and be a little ahead to a place where the problem is behind me. However, we know this isn’t possible and we have to take life as it comes at the same speed as everyone else.
Anytime I think about how nice it would be to have the fast forward button for my problems I realize I would miss out on what the Lord is teaching me through those trials. According to God’s Word the trials we face tests our faith, which in turn produces godly patience. This patience, which through faith in Jesus is being perfected, brings about a great work of God in our lives. We grow in faith and become well-rounded believers who are ready to face other trials which are surely going to come our way. God is not in the business of tearing us down, but rather He is always seeking to build up our faith, character, and hope. Through this refining process we are daily becoming more like Jesus Christ, which is the goal of the Christian faith.
Here we have the key to finding the joy spoken of in James 1; faith in Jesus Christ gives us joy even in the midst of our problems, frustrations, and heartaches. The peace of Christ can so overwhelm us that we walk forward in spiritual victory rather than defeat. We are empowered to “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).” Discouragement and spiritual defeat are rampant in today’s world and I frequently encounter followers of Christ who are sorrowful and dejected. Faith in Jesus Christ lifts us up and empowers us to walk forward in victory. Our problems will be there and others will follow. Yet in Christ we will not fall apart. Instead we will grow through them.
My prayer today for you and for me is we will see our problems not as irritations, but as opportunities for spiritual and personal growth. Keep looking to Jesus and keep looking up. Christ is greater than any problem we will ever face.