I want to be like Jack Bauer when I grow up. I love that show, 24. It’s the only television show I can actually say I rearrange my schedule to watch (or use my trusty DVR when that’s not possible). Talk about a bad day – Jack Bauer does more rescuing damsels in distress, battling the enemy, and living the adventure in one day than most of us could do in a lifetime! And, no matter what happens, including torture, confinement, betrayal, or even severe blunt trauma to the head – Jack Bauer is ready for anything.
Today’s reading in the book of James reminded me of Jack Bauer. Just look at the first few verses:
2 Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. 3 For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.
Anything in there for you? Here are a few things I needed to be reminded of:
- “whenever trouble comes your way”: notice it doesn’t say “if” – we’re going to experience trials
- “let it be an opportunity”: love that word – we have a choice to use trials for our benefit … or not
- “an opportunity for joy”: joy? how can a difficult trial be a joy? (see #4)
- “when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow”: ‘nuf said
- “so let it grow”: again we have a choice – we can let it grow or let it stunt our growth
- “when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything”: awesome!
What are you facing today? What trials have you found yourself in the midst of? Do you let it consume you or are you able to grow your endurance? Can you find joy?
That last one is a hard one. My first reaction to trials is not usually joy. But, let’s look at that word. I used to think it meant some kind of happy, bubbly, smile-on-your-face, nothing’s-bothering-me attitude. I’ve grown to realize that joy is more about confidence that even though it’s hard right now – things are going to be alright in the end. It doesn’t always produce a big smile and flowery hugs. Trials are difficult – and it’s okay to grieve and show emotion. But when those emotions are getting in your way, it’s time to get help. Talk to a brother, call your pastor or trusted friend. Sometimes just talking out loud and having someone listen makes things seem better somehow. In the end, know that God is faithful and will not abandon you – no matter how difficult the trial seems.
Once you’ve been to “the bottom” a few times and seen God lift you back up, it’s easier the next time to know that you’re going to be okay. That’s your endurance growing. You’ll be better off, better prepared for next time.
Who knows, maybe with a few more trials, I’ll be like Jack Bauer when I finally grow up.