James: In Trials & Tests
Grow Up: Exhortations from James
“In Trials & Tests”
— excerpts from the teaching by Rusty Foerger
There is no other book in the Bible that starts this way—that drops us into a war-zone and tells us to “Grow Up!”
James wrote to encourage earlier believers in a time of increasing persecution; his message is bare knuckled and his style is bare boned. “Talk is cheap,” James implies, “but mature faith expressed through service is invaluable.”
One person came to me after I taught on Sunday and suggested that another way to put this sermon series would be, “Grow In”—as in “grow into Jesus.” Yes, I agree. We mature in Christ as we grow up into Him.
Grow Up – Into Jesus
“James tells us that we should face trials with joy—because trials test the reliability and the limits of our faith in order to produce perseverance.
In the process of persevering—we gain maturity that is wise, stable, and single minded/hearted for God.”
Consider it pure Joy?
Not me, not really … at least … not easily.
Nevertheless, testing teaches us Joy—but not in a straight line from point A to point B. It is rather counterintuitive:
“People who suffer don’t try to balance their [emotional] account by going to parties and whooping it up…. The right response to pain,” David Brooks tells us, “is not pleasure—it’s holiness…. Suffering is a fearful gift.”
No wonder then that Henri Nouwen would so beautifully understand the power of our own suffering, our own wounding, our own testing when he writes:
“Nothing can be written about ministry without a deeper understanding of the ways in which the minister can make his own wounds available as a source of healing.”
This means of course that we are not to run from our wounds, or hide them, or try prematurely to heal them—especially those wounds that may linger a lifetime.
This means of course that we befriend our sufferings, understand them, and be open about them as a conduit for healing others.
This means of course that we “consider it pure joy” when we find our faith is tested.
Therefore, let us pray:
Continue Your great work of making me more like Your Son;
Continue to give me insight to see the sufficiency of Your grace;
Continue to give me wisdom as to how to offer my wounds as a source of healing for others;
For it is by Jesus’ own name and example that I ask.