“Consider it pure joy,” James writes, “Whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance! Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).
During these last ten days I have discovered that God does a complete work in me so that I may be strong in Him, and not lack in anything. My spiritual maturity is achieved through perseverance. It must be complete so that when the temptation strikes, I am strong. It must be complete in order to handle life’s unexpected circumstances. It must be complete to carry the daily load that I face. There is a work that began the moment I gave my life to Christ, and it can only be completed through a willingness to endure. Endurance that is born of faith in His ability instead of my own brings the promise of His strength and power. The joy of the valley is just as real as that on the mountain. I have peace because I realize that I have nothing within me that can meet the need, and I have given Him whatever life brings‒the good and the bad (Philippians 4:6-7). Perseverance brings the greatest reward of more and more of Him, and less of me.
Life brings times of great joy and times of great struggle. The struggles, whether temptation or hardship, should inspire spiritual growth. Peter imparts, “These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (I Peter 1:7). The trying of my faith during hardship should develop the ability to persevere. Christ reveals that I am to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect. Perseverance is meant to spur each believer on toward this goal (Matthew 5:48).
James 1:3 is still in my mind. I should consider trials and suffering as “pure joy”. “We also rejoice in our sufferings,” Paul writes, “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Suffering creates the ability to persevere. Perseverance reveals the moral fiber in good character. Character promises hope. Hope doesn’t disappoint, but fuels our faith. We rejoice in the fact that we grow in greater faith in spiritual maturity.
Faith is being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). Hope that needs to be seen says, “I kind of believe, but let me just see enough, so that I can really believe.” It is not the kind of hope that just trusts that the unseen will come. In Hebrews 11 there are examples of people who hoped, waited, and had faith in the Lord. They persevered, but died without receiving all God had promised. They did not become frustrated because their needs and expectations were not immediately realized. They did not become impatient and just give up because the final promise of heaven was so distant. Each lived and died without seeing the full profit of their faith while on earth. Yet, through it all, they believed.
God has given His promises so that you and I have the strength to stand against sin, to be part of His very nature, and to grow spiritually. To escape sin’s grasp, and to be more like Him, spiritual growth is not an option. Peter explains that we must add to faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness. We can’t add these alone (II Peter 1:3-7). Only the Lord supplies the strength for this accomplishment, but we make the decision to step out in faith.
This is the last morning of the Daniel fast. I step out in faith to grow spiritually. No matter what I face, I will remain in Him I will persevere no matter what comes. His perfect will is for greater and greater faith to spring up in the midst of pain, suffering, and life's unexpected moments. It is my decision if the lesson is learned.