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.
12 Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never considered tests as occasions for joy. I remember instead tests being times of great anxiety and turmoil as I furiously studied, prepared, and stressed about what grade I might get. Watching my daughters prepare for quizzes and tests today, I don’t think much has changed.
Tests of faith are no different. When we feel the things we once thought secure slipping away, when we experience friends and family turning their backs on us, when we find that the things we once believed in aren’t all we thought they were, we are experiencing the testing of our faith. It’s not pleasant. It calls for endurance while the storm passes until we can find our feet again. Sometimes that endurance feels like hanging on for dear life, because that’s all we have within us to do.
During that time of testing, it’s not easy to feel or experience growth. We feel stuck and stunted, like it’s only by God’s grace that we’re not blowing away entirely. But remember, sometimes a plant needs to grow down before it can grow up. I think this is what James means when he says, “Let this endurance complete its work.”
The lessons of endurance in the face of trials don’t make themselves known immediately. In fact, the lessons may not be at all apparent until the next time you face a trial. It’s then that your maturity and strength will be on display, that you’ll be able to stand firm and be regarded as one who is tried and true, who has walked with God through the fire and come out the other side.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
When have you faced a test of faith? Can you describe how your trust in God was shaped by the experience? How did it affect your approach to the next trial you encountered?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you endured the cross for our sake. When we face testing, walk beside us. Help us to hold on when we feel like we’re losing our grip. And when the storm has passed, help us to take the lessons we’ve learned and apply them to grow up into the people you need us to be. Amen.