“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4, NIV
We have these hand-me-down miss-matched table and chairs in our apartment dining area. Let me be honest with you: We basically hate them. They were free and we are a young married couple, so I’m sure you understand the situation. Aside from the fact that they don’t go together and one chair is already broken and the table legs are kinda loosy-goosy--two of the three chairs have these awful arms on them. I hate them. They completely constrict my movement. (Just ask my mom about my table etiquette and the ways I sit).
This morning I was sitting in the chair, reading some psalms and being completely distracted by my disdain for the uncomfortable seating. Then I started thinking about God, and the purpose for those chair arms… It’s silly, but just bear with me. Armchairs serve a purpose and that purpose is to allow you to sit properly and upright. They keep you facing the proper direction. They put you on the straight and narrow, sitting just as you ought to. Unfortunately though, sitting properly is wildly uncomfortable. And so it goes in life.
God has a specific plan and purpose and direction for us. There is a “straight and narrow” so to speak. At times, this path can prove uncomfortable. But that is just the sort of thing that James is talking about in this passage. In verse two James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” (ESV).
Stop wriggling in your chair my friend. This discomfort, though unpleasant, gives our perseverance the opportunity to grow. How can we mature without the testing of our self-control? Sometimes, God makes us uncomfortable to encourage growth and fortify strength. Just as sitting properly in an armchair produces a strong spine and an upright posture – trials in life bolster our spirits to keep us standing firm and moving forward. Not to mention the fact that all God wants is to provide us with some guidance and structure, for the sake of our well-being. As we follow the path he has placed us on, we gain wisdom. As we take his instruction to heart, we mature. As we sit upright and respect the arms of the chair, we become complete.
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:3-4, NLT