Friday, February 25, 2011


TODAY'S SPECIAL: James 5:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "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 5:11

Perseverance is not my strong suit. I have more than once abandoned something because it seemed impossible to carry out and I was discouraged. Thus James' encouragement to persevere through the fiery trials he talks about early in the book, and the rich oppressors alluded to in 5:1-5, and the long wait for Jesus' return in 5:7-8 snags my attention.

James refers to the perseverance of Job. We know about him — that man who saw his fortunes turn so that in a matter of a day or two he went from being a wealthy leader in the community to a man who was posessionless, ill, and pathetic. Even his wife encouraged him to give up: "Curse God and die."

We know he didn't. And after he had persevered (we're not told how long his illness lasted), God replenished his state to even greater than it had been before.

Jerry Bridges in his book Trusting God Even When Life Hurts talks about perseverance in the chapter on adversity. He defines perseverance as "the quality of character that enables one to pursue a goal in spite of obstacles and difficulties" (Kindle Location 1897).

He cites Romans 5:3 and James 1:3 — which both speak of adversity and perseverance — noting "We see here a mutually enhancing effect. Adversity produces perseverance and perseverance enables us to meet adversity" (KL 1914).

Then he draws this conclusion about driving force behind perseverance:

"Though perseverance is developed in the crucible of adversity, it is energized by faith...consider the analogy of weight training. Although the weights on a bar provide the resistance needed to develop muscle, they do not provide the energy. That must come from within the athlete's body. In the case of adversity, the energy must come from God through faith. It is God's strength not ours that enables us to persevere. We lay hold of His strength through faith" (KL 1918).

So it is God's strength I need to help me to persevere so that I can get to "the end intended by the Lord." Then, when I have persevered and come out the other side, the realization I will have is that the Lord is compassionate and merciful. I will see that the test or trial through which I had to persevere was for my good and sent because God loved me too much to leave me untried by adversity and faith-flabby from a lack of needing to persevere.

PRAYER: Dear God, it's easy to theorize about perseverance when life is going smoothly. Help me to put these principles about adversity, perseverance, and faith, into practice in my life's small challenges, so that when big ones come, I will have experience with trusting You and knowing that with Your strength, I can make it through. Amen.

MORE: "Whatever Comes" - Brian Doerksen

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