Life Lessons from Hard Times – Part 4 of 12
Continuing with our series on Wisdom and Successful Living, we have found that wisdom is both from above and necessary in our daily living. It is a life skill that comes with knowledge and practice.
Maybe it would be easier if life came with a buyer’s guide! No one gets through life without major errors in judgment, in relationships, in life’s direction. That is one reason it is so dangerous to confidently assert we have all the answers or that we understand all the nuances of a life path. As was earlier said, questions and doubt (as contrasted with debate or challenging of God) were part of the common-ness of life confronted by Jesus and the disciples. In Jesus’ ministry to a man whose son was demon-possessed, the man wept and blurted out: “Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.” Mark 9:24. Even the strongest of the disciples – the men and women who followed Jesus – were bewildered by the events of the cross and resurrection.
James, the brother of Jesus, continues with his early New Testament writings to the new church, in Christian Living 101, as follows: James 1:12 12Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the LORD has promised to those who love him.
Four eternal truths are in place for the followers of Jesus:Happiness only comes with Hard Work and Gratitude – No Exceptions. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial. Christian maturity, or growing up, is not automatic. God places every Christian in trials and tests that are designed for growth and development. You are not being mistreated by God. You are blessed. You are to be happy and receive these trials with joy. Remember Part One of this series: Consider it pure joy. James 1:2.Passing Marks in Life. Having stood the test. Here the original language adds color. The Greek word dokimos, seen in 1:2 and here, was the stamp put on pottery as the craftsman shaped and molded first-century dishes and art. Tested. Proven. Do you see this? Nothing is instant. This is a process, a series of tests that we take and learn from, in trials, to get us to a standing – a mature – posture. Rewards for Service.That person will receive the crown of life. There are two basic tracks in the New Testament. The first is conversion, regeneration, salvation, believing in Christ, grace without works. The second is discipleship, perseverance. Hard work and resolve, commitment, devotion, which leads to reward in heaven. The first guarantees us eternal life. The second acknowledges our growth as children of God and commendation from God in heaven. Here heavenly reward (not eternal life) comes to those who persevere. Again, no exceptions.Promises and Reward.The Lord has promised to those who love him. Maybe a physical analogy will help. I have five wonderful children. Nothing they will do changes their status as my son or daughter – that is a guaranteed status. But the quality of our parent-child relationship is borne out by the way we love and respect and care for each other. The quality of the relationship is open-handed. It is there for family members who work at and care for each other in familial settings. Nothing guaranteed here. It comes with work and commitment. This is the path to physical and spiritual growth and maturity. Does that make sense?So, in summary, our first four lessons for skillful living during hard times, from James 1, are as follows: God has tailor-made hard times for us, gratefully received by us, and embraced, to grow us up, to allow us to make skillful life decisions with generous direction from God; for those who don’t argue or challenge God as to our life circumstances, recognizing our lower or poorer position is actually an honor, and reward and maturity comes with perseverance. This truly is Christian Living 101. God’s best to each of you in this journey.
– John Moore