Crown of Life

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)” Here again we hear the two words mentioned earlier, persevere and trials. We started James by “considering” trials joy but now we hear we will be blessed for enduring, for persevering, for hanging in there.
This makes me think of the dating game as we swapped stories at lunch Sunday about waiting for the spouse to propose or accept our proposal. I can laugh now but at the time, it was sweaty-palms. I ponder the hearts of our political candidates. Half will feel rewarded for persevering through the campaign and half will be deeply disappointed as well as their supporters. I suspect the trials that James is talking about is not the trials of achieving the goals we want, eg a spouse or a job, but rather the trial of living by principles we believe reflect our faith. Living out forgiveness or generosity, or patience is not easy. Dealing with alcoholic relatives, ungrateful children, isolation from sheltering all challenge us to doubt the “wisdom from above.” This verse says the reward is not getting what we want but the crown of life for doing what God wants. Not easy.
As a chaplain, I walked through the living room of the care center and saw a little ole man patting the hand of his little ole wife who was crying, who had lost her beauty, who used a walker and whose hands were shaking. I heard him speak into her anguish, “I will always love you. You will always be the love of my life.” He was not looking at what the world looks at but he was using the eyes of his heart. Perhaps trials force us to see with the eyes of our heart and help us learn to endure as we listen to God whisper into our prayers, “I will always love you!”

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