My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
I had always thought of my father as the wisest, smartest man in the whole world. He always seemed to have just the right answer for every question I had. But once he told me something I found hard to believe.
It happened when I got my first pocketknife. I was eagerly studying every bit of my new possession when I saw the strange words, “Tempered Steel.” “What’s that?” I asked my dad. “What is Tempered Steel?” And that’s when my dad told me something that didn’t make any sense. He actually told me that they make steel stronger by putting it through fire. That was too much for my boyish mind to take in. I mean, how do you make something stronger by putting it through fire!
Well, I am in the midst of reading the fine book, Washington’s God, by Michael and Jana Novak in which they recount George Washington being put through the fire. They tell of that pivotal year in the Revolution, and pivotal year in Washington’s faith, 1776. After suffering humiliating defeats in New York and crushing retreats through New Jersey, Washington has lost three-fourths of his troops. As 1776 drew to a close his battered army was worn down to a mere four thousand battered men. And worse, the enlistments of half of those troops were set to expire on December 1.
But the Novaks carefully document Washington’s growing faith and conviction that “Providence tests and tempers the character, seeing how far a person’s ultimate faith will stretch, how much pressure it can withstand.” Then the Novaks conclude that, “it was from such circumstances that Washington found the inner strength to maintain a relatively even keel during the horrible rollercoaster events of 1776.”
In today’s text, James tells us something that at first doesn’t seem to make much sense. It sounds almost crazy! But when things do go wrong, and problems assail us, we can actually “consider it nothing but joy.” Why? Because God is tempering our faith and making us stronger.
So hang in there through the hard times. Know that God is up to something good in your life. Don’t lose your temper!
Grace and Peace,
WEEKLY CLASSES WITH TIM SMITH:
Wednesday Evening 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Profiles of Spiritual Maturity: The Letter of James
EVERY WEDNESDAY THROUGH THE SUMMER
AT THE FRANCISCAN RENEWAL CENTER (GARCES ROOM OF PIPER HALL)
Wednesday Noon – 1:00 pm: Songs for Life’s Journey: The Psalms of Ascent