Persevere through suffering


James 1:12 Blessed 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.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, so that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

There is some teaching that espouses if you give the right amount of money to the church and if you tell God the things you want then you will receive them because God wants His children to be healthy and prosperous. I agree that God wants the best for His children, but the gospel never teaches that if we do all of the right things then we will not face difficulties. Instead, we are taught throughout the New Testament that we can expect suffering as Christ followers. The difference between those of us who follow Christ and those who follow the world is that we have a strong and mighty help in Christ Jesus.

God created a perfect world for man, but man made the choice to be disobedient to God and lost his place in paradise. Does God want us to be sick, does He want us to face trials, does He want us to suffer? No, but through the first act of disobedience sin entered this perfect world, and because of sin we have sickness, suffering, and trials.

Jesus paid the price for our individual sins, but the sin problem still exists in this world today. James tells us that we must persevere. He also tells us that God does not tempt us, but it is our own sinful nature that will turn us away from God. James even gives us the progression of sin. We saw this progression with Eve. At first she allowed Lucifer to implant the thought that she could be like God if she ate of the fruit of knowledge. Then she stayed in the vicinity of the tree, looking at it and desiring it. Ultimately she gave in to sin and ate of the tree.

But James goes on to say that every good and perfect gift is from God, and that God does not change. Praise God, He does not change. God is holy, He is present, He is loving, and He wants only the best for us. But until we escape these earthly bonds that hold us here, we will have to endure trials and suffering, Christian or not. Is it not better to endure knowing that you are not alone but that Jesus is your ever present help in the time of need?

PRAYER: Father, may we come to know you as you truly are instead of believing the perversions that it is your will for us to suffer or that we can escape suffering by following some formula. May we stay so close to you that our sinful nature will be nothing more than an afterthought because our heart’s desire will be only for you.

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