“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:3)
If you could have anything you wanted in life, what would it be? What would make your life just perfect?
People have been dreaming up answers to that question for centuries, and have either been doing their best to pursue it, or bemoaning the fact that they missed it. But if they knew their Bible well enough, the answers to that question would all be the very same ….
What would make their life perfect would be “patience” having its “perfect work” and that having the full effect that they would then be perfect and complete; lacking nothing.” (v.4)
Different versions of the Bible use a range of synonyms to try to capture the heart of this word used in (James 1:3-4) . Some call it “endurance” … Some call it “perseverance” … Some call it “steadfast” … The original Greek word — “hupomeno” — is consistent, and it represents the most awsome thing God can give to a Christian. The ability to lack nothing. It’s everything you could ever want in life ….
“Hupomeno” is a compound word made up of two parts: hupo (meaning “under) and meno (meaning “remain”). It’s the idea of remaining under; staying put; not wriggling away from the many pressure points in life ….
Our lives are overrun with things that exert pressure. Our marriages can cause pressure, just as singleness can cause pressure. Managing work and family demands creates pressure. The effects of aging add additional pressures ….
And when not strained enough by these routine forms of pressure, here come those extraordinarily unpredictable forms of pressure, like health problems, emotional traumas, children in trouble, car breakdowns, overdue bills, and those seemingly random weeks when a string of household appliances goes out, one after the other ….
And the greater the pressure, the more you’ll wish for any way to get out from under it. Run, quit, bail, isolate, or simply pull the covers over your head and face the wall ….
But getting out from under is not ‘really’ what you want — because “hupomeno” is the funnel through which all Christian virtue flows. Every good thing that God wants to infuse into your life comes through growing your ability to stand steadfast, to “remain under” the pressure ….
If believers would remain in their churches when the challenges become heaviest, they’d experience the best thing God wants to give them. If spouses wouldn’t decide they can’t take it anymore, or if parents would stick it out with their prodigal kids, if we all (myself included) would simply continue to pray in spite of the trials; we’d all experience what only hupomeno can produce in our lives …..
As James said it, “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).
There’s not nearly as much scholarly debate on what the word for “perfect” means. It means “perfect.” And it leads toward being “complete” — so that when someone asks what you need, you can honestly tell them, “Nothing” …..
When others are complaining about what’s missing in their lives, you already know you’ve got everything that matters. God has given you the ability to remain steady when under pressure — to remain confident in faith, in Him — and nothing can stop somebody like that ….
The worst decisions you’ll ever make in life are quitter decisions. (I should know; I’ve made my share.) These come from a defeated mindset. Your best decisions, however, will be the ones God enabled you to make, where you stayed bolted in place when the trials were pressing down on you the hardest and yet, you refused to walk away or give up …..
Because God intends for your trials to transform your conduct and character. And when you persevere … when you endure … when you grind out with patience what’s required in handling those moments maturely …. you’ll come away with the greatest thing in the world: “Patience and Steadfastness” and trust me, it will be “perfect” ….
“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” (Psalm 34:8-10)
Let us pray ~
Gracious and Loving God; thank You for wanting me complete, where I will not lack any good thing. And thank You for creating and allowing those enviroments and trials where You can perform this level of work in my heart. This is what You’ve created me for — to bring You glory by what You alone can produce in my feeble, weak, fragile self. Lead me to surrender my desire for comfort and instant relief that I may stand strong in You. Teach me to trust more and fear less when storms arise, and rest in Your promise that my struggles are producing priceless virtues that will carry with them a beautiful crown in glory. Make I joyfully carry my cross this day. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen ….