James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
We like ponds without ripples, clear skies without a cloud, vacations from work and days free from problems. But life isn't always like that. Trials come from unexpected and unanticipated places to have surprising impact on our "ripple free" lives. We're shaken from our comfortable routines and questions are accompanied by pain and then more questions.
James reminds us that all of life is a training exercise. I remember getting up really early that first summer at the Naval Academy for something called the PEP program (Physical Exercise Program) and we marched to a field as dawn was breaking for about an hour of strenuous twists, bends, push-ups under the direction of a German immigrant named Heinz Lens, complete with the Teutonic accent. As I'd shake the clouds from my brain and feel the muscles burn I'd wonder why I'd chosen this departure from my comfortable home life.
But good old USNA was where the Lord wanted to break me down to find me with Himself and I'm forever grateful for the small discomforts and challenges that helped me come to the end of self and find the beginning of life in Him.
And as time unrolls the trials come, just as James said, "of various kinds". Perhaps we need trials of health and trials of relationship and trials in the work place and trials with money because there are lessons to be learned and character to be shaped from all of those experiences. Verse 4 is so encouraging...God has an ultimate in mind for each of us who trust in Him. He takes us places we wouldn't go to make us into the person we didn't know we could be. And a little farther down the same passage we read: "12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."
May your trials this day deepen your relationship with Him and complete you for His purposes.
"Death is inevitable. Life is a choice!"
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."