No one enjoys being the heat of a trial, whether that heat is a dry heat or not. I get uncomfortable when the heat is on. I get tired when the heat is on. I sometimes lose energy when the heat is on. I get focused on Christ far less than I should when the heat is on.

In the 1980’s I was stationed aboard MCAS El Toro in Southern California. I remember “volunteering” for a special duty at the annual air show. I say “volunteering” in quotation marks because the Marine Corps has a neat way of getting folks to volunteer: they simply say “You have volunteered” and, voila! they have volunteers.

Anyway I was part of traffic control/guard duty for the air show. Guard duty isn’t much fun but at least I got overtime…just kidding! So I was guarding a rope (actually I was standing guard near a sensitive area) in the heat of the day. I was sweating like crazy and was quite uncomfortable in my uniform. By the end of the day I was tired, my knees ached, I was sun burned and I stunk to high heaven. But I stood at my post. I heard a civilian remark about my plight as he walked by. The comments went something like this:

Civilian #1: Man, it looks like that dude (me) is about to die!

Civilian #2: Yeah…should we offer him something to drink? That might help

Civilian #1: I don’t think he is supposed to drink when he is on duty.

Civilian #2: If he isn’t supposed to drink…

Civilian #1: But it is so hot out (it was over 100 at my post). Where is his OC? (I think he meant C-O)…

Civilian #2: But it is a dry heat!

All I could think of was “An oven on broil is a dry heat too!” No wonder I didn’t like civilians so much on that particular weekend. Man it was hot. I’m sweating now just remembering how hot it was.  Even though I felt like I was on the face of the sun, I stood my ground and didn’t leave. I stood in the heat and took it. It wasn’t easy or enjoyable but I did have a mission that I felt honor-bound to fulfill. “After all” I thought, “I’m a Marine. I can take this.”

Do we have the same attitude when we stand in the heat of a trial God has brought to us? Are we willing to sweat, aches, and stink to high heaven? Or, do we want to escape into the nearest air conditioned hut? What should be our attitude when we find ourselves in the midst of a trial?

When we seek out teaching about trials, we needn’t go anywhere else than James 1:2-4:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.   And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The first think we notice is what our attitude should be: consider it all “joy”. But what is “joy”? And why should we have it when undergoing a trial. Well, first joy is not an emotion and it is not to be confused with happiness. being joyful does not mean that we have a smile pasted across our faces. NO, joy is a result of knowing there is purpose in everything. Finding joy is as simple as knowing there is a purpose behind whatever you and I are experiencing. So now the question becomes, What is the purpose of trials? We’ll get there but first lets look at some other things in this passage.

In v. 2 we see that trails are a sure thing…Notice the use of “when you encounter”. It isn’t “if you encounter…’ If you are a Christian who is being sanctified by God, then you will face difficulties in this life. Having difficulties is not a sign of God’s judgement. No, facing difficulties as a Christian is a sign of God’s blessing.

In vv. 3 – 4 we see the purpose: the trial produces endurance (or perseverance) which leads us to the ultimate purpose of the trial which is to be complete, lacking in nothing. We see one of the key terms in progressive sanctification used here. That term is the one translated “endurance”. here. In NT Greek, that word is hupomone. It is a compound word made from the words hupo, which means “under”, and meno which means “to remain”. So the word means “to remain under”. Here in James the reference is to remain under the pressure and heat of a trial.

No one enjoys being the heat of a trial, whether that heat is a dry heat or not. I get uncomfortable when the heat is on. I get tired when the heat is on. I sometimes lose energy when the heat is on. I get focused on Christ far less than I should when the heat is on.

How about you?

Focusing on Christ  isn’t an easy thing to do but it is a simple thing to do. Oftentimes the simplest things are the hardest things.

So here we see that the aim of the trial is that we get everything we need to be complete. You see, that is the goal of progressive sanctification. Now, with all due respect to Wesley, this completeness won’t happen until we are in glory. For now, we need that perseverance to develop so we can joyfully stand in the heat of the trial without wanting to get into the nearest air-conditioned Quonset hut.

So how are you doing? My first pastor, Dr. Braun, once said that a Christian is “either going into a trial, in a trial or coming out of a trial.” Trials are a way of life for us, we might as well approach them joyfully since we know that the goal of the trial is not to break us but to make us more complete.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s