Perseverance Under Trials…Like, Real Trials

Of the many youth devotionals I attended in my middle school and high school years, one particularly stands out because it irritated me so badly that I’ve never forgotten it. All these years, my complaint has desperately wanted a voice, so I’ve finally decided to give it one. This particular evening, the speaker was basing his lesson on James 1:12 — “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” Great verse. The only problem was that he was trying to use it synonymously with “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Desperately trying to make it relevant to the teenagers in his audience, he used the most ridiculous examples. The one I remember went something like this: “What are some trials that you’ve had to face? How about, like, losing a basketball game? That’s tough, but you can’t give up. Man, you’ve gotta persevere under those trials. God rewards that!”

Yeah, try telling that to the first century believers that James was writing to, who were suffering intense persecution and dying for their faith. I’m sure they would appreciate their hardship being compared to losing at a sport. Adults misinterpret this for their own adult situations as well — something like, “Success is the result of persistence.”

God rewards those who seek Him at great personal cost, regardless of the price. The crown of life belongs to those who would face death to honor Him — or, like Job, still praise Him after being reduced to nothing. That puts a much more serious tone to it — and let’s face it, here in our middle-class American Christian bubble, we don’t have a freaking clue. This was written to encourage people to hold to their faith no matter what, not to inspire people to climb a little higher on the corporate ladder so they can afford a new Lexus. This kind of situation is so far from our comprehension that if we try to personalize it, we end up trivializing it.

Not everything in the Bible needs to be compared to an everyday situation at school or work here in the U.S. of A — because not everything can be. Sometimes, we just need to take it at face value and admit that most of us don’t know what trials really are.

Published in: on November 30, 2011 at 12:35 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Haha, I remember that devo. I was thinking the same thing.

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