And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1: 4

Doubt is a personal reality that I, in honesty, have to admit to possessing. My doubt is not generally of the large scale and global sort, for I don’t have times when I lack a belief in the existence of God or question whether Jesus is real, true, and fulfills the role of Savior. These are not my doubts. Mine are ordered in the class of trust and reliance. When times get hard or the road that I am facing gets to be harsh and rough, I can turn from that easy daily faith in the provision, protection, and truth of God’s Word and instead I start to listen to my own voice of desperation and fear. This voice leads straight into my personal form of doubt, and this is never a good place for me to go, for it tends to freeze me into either inaction or it brings about self-driven poor choices.

I recognize that my own journey in this area may look very similar to that of some people, and it will be completely different from that of others. Just as God made each of us to be individually gifted with the blessings of His Spirit, He also formed us to be distinct and individualistic in most others aspects of life and of living it out. Yet, I also think that most followers of Christ do have times when we enter into a form of doubt. These periods of time or episodic events are often brought about in times when there is stress, trouble, and challenge present in our lives. These are those times of trial that James is speaking about, and these are the parts of life when hanging in there with God’s truth as revealed in His Word and through the interaction of his Spirit with me leads to a deeper and a stronger faith and trust in my relationship with Christ.

God’s desire and will is that each of His people would continue to grow and to develop in our capacity to live fully in the expression of His grace, love, and redemptive purposes. This sort of living takes courage to carry out in a world that tends to be antagonistic toward God’s absolute form of righteousness. This world fights back against people who bring Godly love, acceptance, justice, and peacemaking to bear upon all of the relationships and situations that we encounter. Therefore, it takes both courage and faith in Christ to continue along a pathway that leads straight into the angry rejection of many of the people and institutions of this world. This conflict in conjunction with physical, emotional, and financial stresses and struggles make up the wide array of trials that we can encounter during our days of following Christ; yet, as we trust the Lord to sustain us and to care for us fully in these times, we grow in our faith and move ever closer to that promise of perfection that is defined and completed in us by Christ. 

Let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1: 4

Endurance is a word that brings out images of things that aren’t always so pleasant. These include copious amounts of sweat, long hours devoted to self torture, studying through the night in order to stuff data that is too big for my brain into its corners, and collapsing to the ground in a painful face plant when the legs are long past nonfunctional. Endurance is just not something that most humans find all that attractive. Most of us just don’t do it very well. We do not endure to the very end.

Yet, endure is what God has done with us, and endurance is what Christ needed to make it to the end in order to secure my place in God’s kingdom. Despite the insults, the indifference, and the failure that we people bring to the relationship, God continues to love everyone, to care about all of our needs, and He will stick with us until the very end of all that we are dealing with. God entered into a promise, a covenant, with us, and He does finish the course to its completion. In the process, He invites us to decide to join in and rely on His strength, wisdom, and encouragement to finish well ourselves. 

Regardless of what this day holds, the Lord has a plan for it. He does ask us to trust Him that this is true, and He does want us to keep going even when the weight of our concerns and cares seems beyond our capacity to hold up. There is victory to be found in those final, painful steps. There is glory to be gained by crossing the finish line as we realize that the strength to get there actually belongs to the Lord and is also supplied by and through His Spirit. It is then, when the only strength that I have belongs to the Lord, that I understand that each step I take in trust is a step deeper into the will of my Savior.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1: 4

 

The character quality that James is discussing, steadfastness, is often one that is used to describe God. In those instances it refers to the way that God does not waiver and is unfailingly consistent in His love, truth, justice, and grace. Situations and circumstances do not change His desire for relationship with all people. Even our negative responses to Him do not deter God from loving us. This deeply rooted love is an essential part of God’s nature. It is also something that He seeks to impart to us so that we can, in turn, be people who are lovers of God and of others and so that this love comes from deep within our character.

 

Living with our feet firmly planted on the character of God is not something that comes naturally for people. We may adopt various aspects of God’s nature as our own, but most of us are still prone to being influenced by what is happening in our lives. We are subject to forces that are outside of ourselves and that seem to be beyond our control. We engage with God and with others based upon what we believe to be best for ourselves or with personal safety and power as our primary objectives. Changing this core aspect of who we are is something that Christ does within us. This change is often worked out through the hard times and trials that come naturally in this world.

 

This is the process that James is discussing. The fact that anyone who lives more than a short time on this earth will encounter difficulties and trials of various kinds is a given. Although this world is a wonder of God’s creative hand, it is also seriously and fatally broken by sin. Each of us with our own brokenness will collide full on with that of this world. Yet, in those points of collision, Christ is with us, and He works to redeem the pain and the loss by taking us deeper into the center of God’s love, grace, and mercy. As we surrender our grief and pain to Christ’s healing embrace, we are made more complete in Him. The Spirit works in our hearts to bring about a new found capacity to live through the hardest of times with our feet firmly planted on that platform of God’s character and with praises of our Lord on our lips.

 

 

Let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1: 4

 

Endurance is a word that brings out images of things that aren’t always so pleasant. These include copious amounts of sweat, long hours devoted to self torture, studying through the night in order to stuff data that is too big for my brain into its corners, and collapsing to the ground in a painful face plant when the legs are long past nonfunctional. Endurance is just not something that most humans find all that attractive. Most of us just don’t do it very well. We do not endure to the very end.

 

Yet, endure is what God has done with us, and endurance is what Christ needed to make it to the end in order to secure my place in God’s kingdom. Despite the insults, the indifference, and the failure that we people bring to the relationship, God continues to love everyone, to care about all of our needs, and He will stick with us until the very end of all that we are dealing with. God entered into a covenant with us, and He does finish the course to its completion, and He invites us to decide to join in and rely on His strength, wisdom, and encouragement to finish well ourselves.

 

Regardless of what this day holds, the Lord has a plan for it. He does ask us to trust Him that this is true, and He does want us to keep going even when the weight of our concerns and cares seems beyond our capacity to hold up. There is victory to be found in those final, painful steps. There is glory to be gained by crossing the finish line as we realize that the strength to get there actually belongs to the Lord and that each step I take in trust is a step deeper into the will of my Savior.