Our team at Avenue Church is preaching through the letter of James. There is always more content than can make it in the sermon. I will be regularly blogging through the book of James as a way to go deeper.
I was listening to a podcast recently about my 1st place Pittsburgh Pirates (I share that because I don’t get to say it often), and the podcast host said something that I thought was really important. He said that talent evaluators in baseball learn more by watching a prospect struggle than by seeing a prospect succeed. He said a trained eye can learn a lot about how someone handles adversity that prepares them for the next level versus coasting on natural talent. To put that in the terms of James’ letter,
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
Each of us will have our faith tested in this life. There is no way to avoid this. How we respond to adversity and testing will reveal our faith. As we lean on God and persevere, the testing leads us to maturity in our walk with God. It is that maturity that enables us to help others who will also go through times of testing.
When a silversmith works with silver, they will put the element in a fire to burn off all the impurities. The silver that comes through the fire is more pure and more valuable. Likewise, steel is forged in fire to make it stronger. Clay is baked in the first to strengthen it. You get the point, right? When we go through the fire, test our faith, and persevere through Christ, we come out stronger on the other side.
What sort of test are you going through right now? James encourages us to encounter tests with joy (1:2) because we know the benefits of testing- a strengthened faith. Let us lean into Jesus, who calms the storms and meets us in the fire.