Thursday, April 10

"knowing that the proving of your faith works endurance" James 1:3 (DB).

"Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God's love; and trials in the way of duty will brighten our graces now, and our crown at last. Let us take care, in times of trial, that patience, and not passion, is set to work in us: whatever is said or done, let patience have the saying and doing of it. When the work of patience is complete, it will furnish all that is necessary for our Christian race and warfare." Matthew Henry says in his commentary on the section of verses (1-11) in James.

With the ravages of tribulation and trials that are being brought to bear upon the faithful in America today, it is far too easy and far too common to wave the white flag in defeat and only wish for a better, more compatiable means in which to survive in this world. We don't want to engage in relationships, because relationships are the bane of happiness, it would seem. We don't want to engage in a slower lifestyle because we must achieve this 'american dream' of financial wealth and independence. We don't want to do what is hard, because life is hard enough.
And we pray for those things, sometimes subconciously and sometimes deliberately. God, we feel, should fix what we deem is broken because we have served and served well. Too often, though, we see the wicked obtaining the very things we feel we should have due to us.

A man who extorts money from his fellow citizens to cover infidelity continues to fill a position of authority. Someone who calls themselves a Christian, yet we know of unchristian lifestyles they are engaged in, continues to stand upon the leadership of a church without condemnation or rebuking. And, we delight in the fall of the apparently mighty when they run smack into the wall of their own sin. We point, murmur, and gossip about who is doing what to whom and when and why, because we aren't getting what seems to be a satisfying life by doing what they aren't.

When we put our faith first and foremost, depending on it more than our stuff, our finances, or our very happiness, we immediately run afoul of the world doctrine of instant and justified fulfillment. But, as Matthew Henry points out, "A mind that has single and prevailing regard to its spiritual and eternal interest, and that keeps steady in its purposes for God, will grow wise by afflictions, will continue fervent in devotion, and rise above trials and oppositions."

There isn't an instant removal of the affliction, but rather a rising above it. We learn how to remove the sting of painful engagement or to endure within it. We come face to face with our own failings within those trials and gain the wisdom to correct them. We remove the ability of our circumstances to control us and live the way God calls us to live despite them. And then, Satan rages and frets against us to no avail, because he knows we have the strength that defies his own wishes. He knows that he has lost yet another soul to the Ultimate Victor, a prelude to the end which he would deny, even to himself.

We should each make a point in our storms to ask for deliverance, yes, but deliverance not at the expense of the wisdom of seeing God's glory and strength. Humbly submitting ourselves to the King, despite the circumstances, teaches us a happiness that will live in any field, any condition, and any place that this world may bring us.

For those things that beset us, trouble us, and sadden us are but "perishing enjoyments" compared to our eternal destination and reward.

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