I'm not sure that "joy," though one of my favorite words and experiences, is how I'd describe my reaction to the trials and temptations of life. But that's James' instruction.
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind,
consider it nothing but joy......(James 1:2 NRSV)
I appreciate the words the NIV translation uses to explain why: because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1: 3-4)
The problem with perseverance is who has time for it, right?
Its hard work. It takes attention, and energy.
to become "mature and complete."
We're busy balancing often fragmented schedules of completing demands with carpe diem spontaneity in the spaces were we can come up for air. Keeping our eye on the prize gets harder every day. Which prize....job satisfaction, financial stability, intimacy, friendship, sleep......will win out today?
James writes, Blessed is the anyone who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1; 12)
I wasn't exactly polishing my life crown Sunday night.
The call came from Helen around 7:15, just as I was tucking the fragments of a busy Sunday into my mental "to follow up" file and relaxing into my new $49 comfy chair find from the Habitat for Humanity Re-store with a cup of tea (satisfied smile).
Lori just called, there's a water problem in the church kitchen. Promising to meet them there, I recruited one more clean up team person, John, then changed into my grubbies and trundled back to church. A faucet had been left running. Water was saturating the cabinets and walls nearest the sink, and the carpet on the other side.
Its interesting how many thoughts can run through your mind simultaneously. How long will this take? What more will we find? Who do I need to contact? How did we miss this while locking up earlier? What was someone thinking (or not!) How does this water vac work? How much is this going to cost? Whose plans may be upset or inconvenienced while we fix this? My thoughts tugged this way and that, from annoyance to relief and back again.
As we worked together, Helen and John's good humor and go to attitude, and our gratefulness that Lori had discovered the problem when she did, rather than our custodian walking into a worse mess on Monday, buoyed my spirits. We were persevering together and done with what we could do by 9:30. On Monday morning the insurance folks and Serv Pro were helpful and encouraging. One Trustee took charge of finding a contractor, another of re-cleaning dishes, and the world kept on turning. No one got hurt. Gifts were put to work.
Pure Joy. God provides. No doubt.
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1: 5-6).
In the early years of Protestantism, James was a divisive book. Martin Luther abhorred it. He thought it contradicted Paul's teaching that we are saved by faith and not by works. (Galatians 2:16) But when James writes, You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone, what it means is that if I call myself a Christian I must act like one. If I claim to follow Jesus, I have to do my best to act like Jesus. And God will provide the wisdom I need, in just the amount I need it, when I'm tested. If I ask.
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.