So we have determined that to see suffering from the Lord’s perspective, we really must look at what the scriptures say. We must not base our understanding on our emotions or past bad experiences. Rather, we must ask the Lord to give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ and desire to be filled with real truth. Only then, will we be able to consider trials, temptations, and suffering as an opportunity for rejoicing. And only then, will we be able to allow endurance to do a thorough work in our lives in the midst of our suffering.
As James continues, he explains that the reason we are to rejoice in our suffering, is because the process is designed to plant and develop endurance within us. And that to him is clearly something worth rejoicing about.
Now, since when has endurance been so important? I mean, today we are not encouraged to have endurance. Maybe if you were an athlete. But in general, we live in a consumer society. Start something, don’t finish it. Need something, buy it immediately. Tired of something, give it up or throw it away. Choices are limitless, and living for Now all that’s important. We do not really understand the concepts of steadfastness, patience, investment, long-term, growth, and endurance. The concepts that the scriptures seem to be full of. The one’s that James is focusing in on here. So why does he focus on endurance and what is it anyways? Well, dictionary dot com defines it as follows:
- the fact or power of withstanding (enduring) or bearing prolonged pain, hardships, strain, etc.
- the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina: (He has amazing physical endurance).
- lasting quality; duration: (His friendships have little endurance).
- Steadfastness: constant, firm, unwavering.
- Patience: calm endurance of hardship, provocation, pain, delay, perseverance.
Lasting quality! That sounds almost like the word “Eternal” – Which is an aspect of the person of God. He is firm, strong, steadfast no matter what, forever, never-ending, ever-lasting, the alpha and omega, timeless, eternal. I like that. It’s like trial is designed to develop within us an aspect that relates to the person of God. To become like Him. For we are made in His character, and should in essence reveal His nature. Is that not why we were made in the first place? To fill the Earth with the image of God. It would seem that even though Adam and Eve fell and subsequently lost much of their nature that revealed God, He did not give up on His quest. No, He determined to use whatever means necessary to reclaim His image bearers on the Earth. To develop and establish within man, that which He is. And so fill the Earth with his image.
So, the charge is to embrace suffering and allow endurance to be developed within us, and so, as people fully developed and lacking nothing, we fill the Earth with God’s enduring and ever-lasting image. That which he has purposed from the beginning of time.
Lord, your desire is to fill the Earth with your image. It is one of the main things that motivated you to create. To have a people that revealed your nature and character perfectly. And for them to multiply and forever fill the Earth with You. Thank you that we can be those image bearers. Please do whatever it takes to develop us into that which we were made to be. Fill us with endurance, fill us with You.