God is passionately invested in us becoming someone we could never be without His direction and intervention.
As strongly as we believe this quote in our ‘together’ times, we tend to get distracted from it in our ‘scattered times’. Or is that just me?
Those scattered by religious persecution 2,000 years ago struggled in trying times. All that had been familiar to them was suddenly gone. They were found floundering in their faith.
James, half-brother of Jesus, writes a powerful letter to those he refers to as ‘sown as seeds among the nations’. Everything around them had become unfamiliar. Their version of their ‘unfamiliar’ included more than just the people and the cultures where they lived as refugees. They grew scattered mentally, emotionally and spiritually, as well. They were on transitional proving ground but had lost their traction.
Not all transitions are as deep in the weeds as they found themselves. Some transitions, we initiate. But through more challenging times than I can count, I’ve learned this:
Transitions are prequels to Transformation.
In the opening of James’ letter we find the premise around which his writing focuses. It should be our focus, too. Don’t wait until life throws you a curve ball to focus on the opening of his letter. Here’s how it begins:
My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking. James 1:2-14 (PBT)
The early followers of Jesus had forgotten something. James writes to reminded them. They were not called to rejoice because they were scattered, but because of something they knew. They had been taught that ‘whenever faith is tested, it stirs up power for endurance’. What also pulls on this thread of thought is found in a similar passage from Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians, who were also going through persecution.
But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. Romans 5:3-4 (PBT)
I want to encourage you of these truths. Our character is refined in scattered times. Rejoicing helps us see this. What do we rejoice in? We rejoice in the end game. We rejoice that God is passionately investment in us during trying times. In them He builds our character. That’s what all the rejoicing is about. And how does He do that? Glad you asked.
Today’s take away: When faith is tried it stirs up power in us to endure. That stirring of His power completes something in our character that has been incomplete. It is in the anticipation of what God is perfecting in our character, that we rejoice.