2020 has been insane. Of coarse, any human who is alive and has a mental capacity greater than that of a 3 year old would read that opening sentence and immediately whisper “Um, news flash, tell me something I didn’t already know.”
This year has really taught me a lot. It’s stretched me in ways I wouldn’t volunteer for. It’s applied pressure and ups and downs. It’s ended and mended relationships, forced me to think about what’s truly important and has even made me realize that it’s totally okay to be a little crazy.
Most of all 2020 reminds me of why it’s so great, in my opinion, to be a believer in Jesus Christ. Scripture says in the book of James to “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds…”
2020 Fact Checker:
Trials – You bet
Of Many Kinds – Absolutely
You could just end it all right there. Let that soak deep into your soul and be overwhelmed with gratitude for all that is rona, social unrest, politics and whatever the hell else the media is doing. In my opinion, if that’s all you did you’d be ahead of 90% of the population. That’s what’s so great about the word. It is LIVING and can give you peace amongst a piece of (fill in your own blank here).
But if you read on you’ll see the real value of “trials of many kinds”
3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Drop. The. Mic. (Permission to just stop right here)
So you’re telling me that when my faith (beliefs and everything that makes me intrinsically me) are shook up and put in a spin cycle that feels like it will never stop and makes no sense at all, is that just me, ok maybe it’s just me, what that produces is perseverance?
Why the heck would I want to go through all that to get perseverance?
Well perseverance is defined simply as: “Persistence in doing something despite the difficulty or delay in achieving success”.
In other words, when things are hard, you don’t use that as an excuse. Cough, Cough, Cough, 2020. News flash folks: it shouldn’t take a pandemic for you to realize that life is hard.
- Raising Kids – Super hard
- Investing in A Marriage – hard
- Paying your Mortgage – hard
- Keeping and Maintaining Good Friends – hard
- Making time for yourself – Hard
- Making a Living – Hard
- Running/Starting/Growing a Business – Hard
- Spending Time with God – Hard
- Exercise – Hard
- Being patient – Hard
- Showing Empathy when you’d rather throat punch – Hard
- Biting your tongue when you’d prefer a roundhouse to the forehead – Hard
- Admitting that you’re wrong – Hard
- Apologizing – Hard
- Realizing that life’s just not fair. It’s not about you and the best thing you can really do it just get over yourself and help others – Hard
I think you get the point, right.
But that’s just the normal human stuff. Ya know, the pre-pandemic, non-2020 stuff. Throw in things like covid, race wars, social issues, rioting, murder, media sabatoge, lockdowns, loss of jobs, income, certainty, and good ole american politics on top of that and you can forget about it.
So, I think we’ve made a decent case here to sure up the “Trials of many kinds” and hopeful now you can also see the value in “Perseverance”. You must continue when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Unfortunately, life’s always been that way.
Praise. The. Lord. (Okay. Seriously just stop this time. Not sure it’ll get any better.)
So if trials produce perseverance and perseverance is what allows me to continue when it’s hard, then that’s why I should consider them pure joy, right? Well, kinda but not exactly. Although that thought process would not be terrible, there’s one last point here I want to share:
4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So this may be one of the most profound things you could ever wrap your mind around. What this is saying is that it’s not the trials (sorry pal), or the many kinds (nope), or even the perseverance (sorry to let down) that are the real value. Don’t get me wrong, each of them are valuable but the transcendent value is in the last verse. It’s “letting perseverance finish its work” so that you can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Let me paraphrase: Only when you “Let” or “Allow” perseverance to “finish” its work can you be “mature” “complete” and “not lacking anything”.
I don’t know if any of you are parents, but isn’t that all you really want for your kids? To be “Mature”, “Complete” and “Not Lacking Anything”. As a father of three young children that is literally all I could ever want for my three kids.
Let me put it even simpler. Like Bridge Creek High School, 2.7 GPA and barely woke up in time for graduation simple:
It’s only when YOU submit to trials, change YOUR perspective on them, learn YOUR lesson from them that you can truly be complete and step into who God made you to be.
That my brothers and sisters is what life is all about.
My choir teacher Bill Smiley, God rest his soul, shared the most profound wisdom with me in the 10th grade, and I didn’t even realize how profound it was until later on in life. Man I wish I could hug his neck, kiss his cheek, and say “Thank you, and I love you”.
Anytime I’d complain or demonstrate my strong opinion or feelings, even impose them on others, really (that’s my blind spot. It’s only a degree or two separation from passion versus implied pressure) he’d look at me dead straight, roll his eyes and say “get over yourself”.
Now I think about my life’s journey so far. 2020 and Corona aside. I have been so blessed with so many trials. Literally. Everyone says that, and I know that everyone means it, too. Such is to be human. Not that mine are any better or worse; there’s just so many of them I could fill up a library if I really cared to. Here’s my point: Although there were lessons I learned from EVERY. SINGLE. TRIAL. I can’t honestly say that I “allowed” a single one of them to “finish” its work. It just wasn’t my nature, and it still isn’t my nature today. That’s what I think God is telling me. That’s what I feel he’s telling America, the World, Humanity.
He’s essentially saying: “Are YOU done yet? Ready to “allow” me to “finish” so that I can take the wheel?
How about you? Do you want to be Mature, Complete, Not lacking anything?
Or would you prefer division, fear, uncertainty?
I think it’s time that we realize what James told us. Here it is all together:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Are you ready to shift your problems to the path of righteousness?
Ready to feel pure joy for each them?
I know you’re faith is being tested. You’re probably already really tired.
Can you let perseverance finish its work?
James didn’t say it would be easy. It seems most of the world we live in today isn’t. Such is to be human.
I’m rolling my eyes and reminding myself of the profound wisdom of Bill Smiley with a subtle reminder, “Chad, get over yourself.” I can hear God softly whisper, “Lose yourself so that you can be with me.”
Are you ready? I’m praying for you.
That’s something to think about.