Who do you admire for perseverance in the face of suffering? One of our more modern day “sheroes” is Joni Erickson Tada who broke her neck and became a quadriplegic at about age 16. She has written, spoken, and put her journey into music. I read about how she dealt with pain when I was a young adult. Who do you admire? James looks to the life of Job, a wealthy man in the Old Testament who lost everything, family, wealth, and even his friends turned on him. James chooses Job because in the end of the book of Job, God appears and justifies Job and rewards him for clinging to his faith. The book of Job is set in a larger context of a heavenly conversation, perhaps discussion, between God and Satan. God allows Satan to bring trouble to Job to highlight Job’s faith. Job claims he has done nothing wrong as his friends urge him to repent as they believe that all misfortune is the result of the person’s wrongs. We learn that Job’s picture is bigger. God does not usually appear to us and we are not always given the larger view but James points out that perseverance is key. This is not to say we do not deserve some of our problems because of our bad choices and misplaced values but it is to say there is not always a direct correlation between trouble and sin.
James’ conclusion is that we live a life of integrity. Our words should speak truth. If we say “no,” it should mean no and if we say “yes” it should mean yes. In this season of political posturing, it is easy to point the finger to the TV and lament the state of affairs of our country, but I am challenged to take a moment and reflect on my life. If I were to rate my level of perseverance on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 is low and 10 is high (even as I rate pain for the nurse), what number would I give myself? I believe James would challenge us that our rating would also correlate to how well we are staying focused on God when confronted with trying situations. Today, when you encounter frustrations, try to stop and reflect if you are being God-centered or self-centered. God works outside the box and he has solutions as numerous as the leaves that are beginning to Fall! Blessings.