From yesterday: Enduring gets a bad wrap. It sounds negative, as if to “endure” means to just barely make it. As if to imply that we can’t thrive, we can only survive. Today, we’re going to begin to move in the direction of discussing how endurance can be about thriving, but it’s going to require us taking some small steps first. Today is one small step in that direction, so do not be discouraged. Hang in there over the next few days.
We recently talked about the following verses about endurance and joy in both in the blogs and in the weekend messages, but let’s revisit them:
2 My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. 3 After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.
~ James 1:2-4, CEB
There’s a certain logic to this that we must walk through slowly and carefully in order to fully understand what is going on here. It is not saying that we should be happy about life’s difficulties. It’s suggesting that people of faith take on a bold, long-term perspective. That perspective reminds us that God is not yet done working. Because he’s not yet done working, there are going to be hardships. These hardships are reminders, ultimately, that God is not yet done working. Let’s phrase it positively: God is working to remove hardships, so that there will be no more tears. That may not make us happy, and it may not completely relieve our pain, but it is a reminder we hold onto that limits the damage.
Joy isn’t about masochistically enjoying hardship, it’s about damage limitation. It is about the long game. It’s about using our perspective, as people of faith, to remind ourselves that God is still at work, even amidst our trials, and part of his work is to create people who can endure such that we become whole, or complete. Joy is not about feeling happy about suffering. It’s about reminding ourselves that suffering does not get the final say.
More to come.