Sitting with the Shepherd
Blessed is he who patiently endures trials; for when he has stood the test, he will gain the victor's crown--even the crown of Life--which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12 WNT)
The admonition to count it all joy when we fall into various trials seems incredulous to believers at first glance and that is precisely where this chapter in James began. But knowing that God allows these trials for our spiritual growth enables us to accept them from a loving Father for our own benefit. This verse is the logical progression of that.
To be blessed is to be spiritually prosperous and comes as the result of enduring temptation and trials. Satan tempts us so that we may fail, but God allows it so that we can grow. The metamorphosis is the process that takes place in the life of a caterpillar as it struggles to escape its cocoon to emerge as a beautiful butterfly. Without the intensity of the struggle the caterpillar would fail to develop and emerge deformed and weak instead.
The key to endurance and eventual triumph through trials is not sheer strength or rigid accountability. It is love, the one force that conquers all. In movies, fairy tales and real life, love is the motivation that empowers the greatest of victories. What James is saying here is that our love for God the Father is the motivating factor here as well. These trials are allowed by a loving Father to transform us into the image of Christ. The crown of life may refer to something that we receive after we die, but it also includes the abundant life given to us in Christ today. Our love for Him motivates us to follow Him through the trials of this world and endure.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 NKJV)
Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion
1. How has Satan tried to tempt you the hardest in order to try and cause you to stumble?
2. How has God used those very same trials to bring you to a deeper understanding of both your own weaknesses and God's strength?
3. In what ways has God shown you glimpses of the abundant life today?
My Heavenly Father in heaven, to Whom I cry "Abba," blessed be Your Holy Name. You O God are the author and the finisher of my faith and every trial that I have ever endured was allowed by You for my benefit. Thank You that Your strength is made perfect in my weakness and that Your grace is and always will be sufficient to sustain us through even the most difficult trials. Thank You for the crosses in my life that lead me to You. Amen