“Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
If you follow Jesus, trouble is coming and no one is exempt! But James promises a “crown of life” to the one who sticks it out. What does that mean? I’d like to know, because one becomes discouraged –even traumatised– by the awful news of persecution these days.
Jesus spoke about it extensively: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He said “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next.” “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Paul cautioned young Christians, “that through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.”
So what is the “crown of life” that we gain by sticking it out? Haruki Murakami gives a great insight here: “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
The knowledge that the child of God is doing the will of God and that the child of God is standing firm in the face of opposition brings joy. You’ve seen it through.
Our vision is so blinkered we can barely imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The cross tells a different story. And God will allow anything it takes to make us like His Son. A whole lot of chiselling will have to go into the process.