[A Shelter in the Time of Storm]
Rev. Dr. Johann Lai
Steadfast and Persevere
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4)
Perseverance is a product of suffering experienced, a medium for cultivating virtue. The characteristics of perseverance is firm and unchanging, thus can also be translated as ‘steadfastness’. The source of this steadfastness is the new life given by God, and not derived from personal cultivation.
We all admit that Christians cannot achieve the state of spiritual perfection in this life (see 1 John 3:2). Therefore, the phrase ‘mature and complete, not lacking anything’ does not imply perfection, but rather ‘maturity’.
To what extent can a Christian possess ‘steadfastness’ depends on his or her spiritual maturity. A child’s ability to withstand pain is far less than that of an adult, and he/she will scream when met with a small sickness. Likewise, when faced with a slight hardship, a believer who lacks spiritual maturity will be at a loss as if the sky is about to fall down. His internal strength is weak relative to the strong pressure from the outside. However, someone with spiritual maturity has sufficient internal steadfastness and perseverance, so that he may fulfill God’s commission under great pressure.
It is often heard that someone utters “God has not finished with me yet!” Indeed, as the work is not yet finished, we need to persevere, and accept what God does to exercise our spiritual life. If us Christians can have this attitude to face the many trials in our lives, they are but the necessary journeys we must travel for our growth, and there is no need to fear or to escape. Accept the many trials in our lives with joy, and the Lord will finish His work on each of us.
Prayer: Live This Day
Dear Lord, help me to live this day
To lean upon Thy great strength
To wait for the unfolding of Thy will
To meet others
To face tomorrow
－Author Unknown, in The Quiet Corner edited by Sherwood Eliot Wirt