I preached from this passage in the Book of James a couple of weeks ago:
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.
I’m not sure why I felt drawn to the first chapter of James, but I suspect I my listeners needed to hear this encouragement. I know I did–I felt like I was preaching to myself more than anyone in the congregation.
James presents an uncomfortable truth in this text: there are some qualities God can only develop in us through trials. Enduring these tests will give us perseverance (“steadfastness”), which will eventually result in maturity (“perfect and complete”).
I wish this wasn’t true–I wish there was some shortcut to being more Christlike and more dependent on the Lord. But the experience of millions of believers (including yours truly) confirms what the Word of God teaches in this passage.
As I meditated on this text I started thinking about diamonds, which are some of the most precious stones in the world. My mind wandered back to my whirlwind romance and my quest for the perfect engagement ring for Mare Cris. I did a little research to get an idea of how these beautiful gemstones are made. Geologists universally agree that diamonds are formed under crushing pressure and intense heat.
Think about that for a second: crushing pressure and intense heat. God uses the most hostile conditions imaginable to create the world’s most exquisite and valuable objects.
He also uses trials and suffering to produce something of eternal value: a saint. Please remember this if you are in the midst of a painful test.
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