Imagine two children sitting in a wagon. The girl is in the front. She picks up toys and other items of interest to her as they are pulled down the sidewalk. She gives them to the boy in the back. He looks at them briefly and then tosses them aside. This is the picture offered by our counselor of a certain woman and man in their relationship as husband and wife. It was much more about me than Diane; I am very good at dismissing things.
To the extent that is true, I fail to realize the blessing promised in James 1:2-4.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Notice the key words here, count, and meet. Certainly trials are the subject of the passage here. But verbs rule. “Consider” is an active, purposeful, and intentional posture in the face of trials. The word behind meet (ESV) or face (NIV) implies that we do not turn away from them. We don’t throw them over the side of the wagon.
In a recent conversation I was expressing that it was difficult for me to believe that people would do some of the things they do. Pedophile priests are protected by their bishops. Coyotes bring people across the US border in semi trailers, abandoning them in the middle of nowhere and in the heat of the Texas summer. Drug lords kill at will. Sex traffickers enslave helpless boys and girls for sordid gain. And that’s just not wanting to believe or face problems external to me!
Such disbelief does not serve me well. We do not conquer evil by pretending it is not present. Ignoring troubles of any kind is not the path to finding true peace and happiness, hope and strength. It is not the means by which we discover the true peace of Christ, or the real grace of God. If we are constantly denying sin’s effect and impact in the world and in our lives we will become inured to the sweetness of God’s grace.
We ought never to feel bad about feeling bad. But we must learn to face the realities of life in a fallen world and as broken people ourselves. That calls for grieving over our brokenness, and the evil all around us. The promise of God’s love, his mercy to us in Jesus, and the peace of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts provide the means by which we can hold to hope, and face every trial in joyful anticipation of God’s redemptive plan.