October 8, 2009

Endurance pays

During the early 90s I experienced an exceedingly difficult trial. When it was over, I realized I had survived the worst and that nothing could ever harm me now. Perhaps that is what James meant when he ended his discourse on trials by saying, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation [trials]” (James 1:12).

My devotional reading in Truth for Today says, “People who successfully endure trials and overcome temptation are truly happy. James is not saying that happiness comes in freedom from trials but in victory over them. There is a big difference. It’s not the shallow joy of the spectator who never experienced conflict; it’s the exuberance of the participant who fought and won.”

Victory is more than exuberance about winning. It is also the blessing of realizing that God is true and with me in all trials, and the blessing of a changed life. Just like Job, I thought I knew God when I went into that trial, but after it was over, my knowledge of God and His power and love had increased beyond my imagination.

James thought about Job too. He later wrote in his book, 

My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:10-11)
At first, making it through a trial doesn’t seem like a blessing, more of a relief. Yet hindsight and honesty help me recognize how God has changed my life and sometimes the lives of those around me during my trials. When they are over, I am more equipped to deal with the tough things, and more confident in Him. I’m less fearful of life handing me lemons because I know that God makes great lemon pie.

At the same time, Job was plainly not the picture of patience during his trials. He complained and struggled, asking lots of questions. Yet Job did not lose faith or his integrity. He was an honest man, griping because he was so miserable, yet insisting he would “come forth as gold” after this trial was over. He did, and so did God.

The biggest trial in my daily life right now is having my dance card full, as my husband would say. I’ve too many responsibilities and not enough hours in the day. I’m teaching a Bible study called Making the Most of Your Resources and realize I’m being tested on what I am teaching. In the process of these pressures, just like the events of almost twenty years ago, God has my ultimate good in mind. He wants me to also come forth as gold.

Instead of complaining that the days are not long enough, I need to count even this work load as a joyful thing because God promises blessing after I persevere and endure. I must listen and pay attention to Him.

While this seems a smaller battle, even an ongoing life battle, He will teach me new things and change my life. My part is joyfully relying on Him in faithful endurance.

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