Lent Devotional: James 1
by Jonathan Haefs
James 1 (click here)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
My children can be so short-sighted. They are only able to see the immediate, not the end.
Levi still can’t ride a bike because all he can focus on is the potential pain in the present… not the joy and freedom that awaits him on the other side of a few scrapes and bruises.
All too often, I find that I am same.
Much like the incoming tide, life seems to bring in wave after wave of trials. There may be short pauses of peace in between, but you know the next wave is coming… and I find that all I am able to focus on this the potential pain in the present. I do not lift my eyes to see the joy waiting on the other side.
James declares to Christians, who were suffering more than I ever have, that all their trials produce steadfastness… a strengthening of faith… and enduring faith that will carry them all the way home to perfection in glory where their joy will be complete!
We don’t deny the pain in the present, but we are able to see more! We see not only pain, but the coming promise… the promise that our trials won’t win… the promise that Christ is with us and will sustain us… the promise that we will know perfect joy in him forever. This promise strengthens our faith in the present! We get a foretaste of joy in the present!
So we can count it all joy! All of it! Because we know that it is all bringing us home to Jesus! There is a joy set before us… just like there was for Christ himself…
We look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who FOR THE JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
When we face trials with joy… not a fake joy that pretends like trials aren’t trials… Jesus did not pretend that the cross would be painless, no, he despised its shame! So… when we face trials with true joy, we display the very cross of Christ to the world! We mirror our savior who endured the cross for the joy of sitting at the right hand of his Father! We endure for the joy of sitting at the feet of Jesus!
Such joy in the face of trials is unlike anything the world has seen. Such joy comes from a cruciform community, willing to sacrifice themselves for the joy set before them… the joy of Jesus.