by Becky Pickett, Gateway Administrator
“Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.” James 1:2-4 TLB
The world has never been in this place before – facing a global pandemic that has completely changed the rhythm of our lives. This passage of Scripture seems to have been written “for such a time as this.” James is asking if life has offered us difficulties and temptations. If a global pandemic has not offered this, then I don’t think anything would!
And then James says something shocking. He tells us to be happy! He says ‘WHEN the way is rough’, not IF the way is rough. He tells us that we will all face times of difficulties and temptations and to be happy so our patience has a chance to grow. Patience is one the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), a virtue that we are to cultivate as we yield to the Holy Spirit. It is defined as ‘the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.’ That is another key to patience – without getting angry or upset!
James says we should continue to work on being patient and not to try to squirm out of our problems. As the coronavirus has spread across our world, I don’t see anyone who has the ability to squirm out of this one. This virus is no respecter of persons. As the officials have been saying, “We are truly all in this together.”
Then James gives us a reason for hope. He says that when our patience is fully developed, we will be ready for anything! Now that sounds like a goal worth attaining! He says we will be strong in character, full and complete. Patience produces perseverance, particularly in a pandemic! Paul tells us that “perseverance produces character and character produces hope” (Romans 5:4). James and Paul are both stating the fact that character is produced when times are difficult.
So, in this time of ‘social distancing’, flattening the curve’, and ‘sheltering in place’, let us examine ourselves that we may develop hearts of patience. Are we patient with ourselves? Are we patient with our spouses and children? (Are we patient with the dog and cat?) Are we patient in the midst of current circumstances? As we have this time to reflect and ponder, let us cultivate this very special fruit of the Spirit – that we may be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete unto the glory of God!
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