Often times when I preach, I come right out of the gates with the strong points. We don’t get a lot of time, so sometimes you just got to get to the point. This is definitely James approach in his book in the New Testament.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
In the first century, a silversmith would take raw silver and purify it by applying heat, turning the silver into a liquid. The impurities would separate from the silver and rise to the top. Using a spoon, the silversmith would remove the impurities, or dross, from the top layer of the silver. A good silversmith would repeat this process many times over. When the silversmith could see his full reflection in the silver, he knew that the silver was pure and the process was finished.
Looking at the original Greek, James is referring to this process. Often times when heat is applied to our lives, the loss of a job, bankruptcy, sickness, or crisis, the Lord is wanting to use that season as a process of removing dross from our lives. Another word used in scripture to describe this process is sanctification. The Lord is willing to allow heat to be applied to our lives because He knows what will grow in us at the end of the process, and like the silversmith, Jesus has a ultimate goal in mind. He wants us to endure so when He looks into our lives, Jesus can see His reflection.
Paul said, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:10-11). Paul wanted Jesus to see His reflection in Paul. Paul knew at times it would be a painful process, but He also knew the joy it would bring him. There is an uncanny peace and joy and love that comes from knowing Christ, enduring with Christ. These cannot be bought, but can be found in Jesus, only if we are willing to endure in times of testing. This is why it is an “opportunity for great joy.”
After his word of encouragement, James says, “So let it grow,” as if to say, “Let’s do this! There is dross in your life, impurities to be removed, but there is love, joy, and peace to be gained. That’s hope, and hope never disappoints” (see Romans 5:5).
Every day there is a test, every day, big or small, crisis or crux, we are being sanctified. So how do we endure?
Think of others who have overcome. Consider what Job, Paul, Christ endured. Reflect on the story of someone you know who endured much and experienced God’s faiuthfulness.
Admit that you need community. Remember, we are family. There are those who have walked through what you may be walking through right now and have much to offer.
Read the Psalms. Google “Psalms to pray in times of (blank)”.
Be thankful. Something supernatural happens when you can tell God what you are thankful for in times of testing.
Pray! Talk to God about what you are experiencing and call out to Him for help.
And whatever you do, don’t abort the process. Hope is a promise to those who endure. So let it grow!
We have the Holy Spirit inside us if we believe, and so we have the ability to walk through the process of testing. Don’t lay down. The process is hard, but let the testing finish so that you may be stronger. Remember, He wants to see His reflection in you.