From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on James 1:2-3

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.            NKJV

Three key words in our text are the words “count,” “testing,” and “patience.”  The Greek word translated “count” literally means “to consider or evaluate.”  It requires a conscious effort on our part.  We do not naturally rejoice in the midst of trials.  The Greek word translated “testing” come from a root which means “to prove.”  The Greek word translated “patience” comes from two roots whose meaning is “to bear up under” and literally refers to “endurance or perseverance.”  God brings trials into our lives to prove our faith and produce endurance or perseverance.  These trials increase the strength of our faith and demonstrate its validity.  Through testing, we as Christians, learn to withstand tenaciously the pressure of a trial until God removes it at His appointed time and we will even cherish the benefit of having gone through that trial.

God hedges and preserves us through these trials, but often we only see the wrong side of the hedge, and so misunderstand His dealings. It was so with Job (Job 3:23). Ah, but Satan knew the value of that hedge! (Job 1:10)

Through the leaves of every trial there are fragments of light which shine through. Thorns do not prick you unless you lean against them, and not one touches us without our Lord’s knowledge. The words that hurt us, the letter which gives us pain, the cruel wound of our dearest friend, the illness or injury that causes us agony, the weight of financial pressures—are all known to Him, who sympathizes with us as no one else can and watches to see, if, through all, we will dare to trust Him completely.

The hawthorn hedge that keeps us from intruding,
Looks very fierce and bare
When stripped by winter, every branch protruding
Its thorns that would wound and tear.
But spring-time comes; and like the rod that budded,
Each twig breaks out in green;
And cushions soft of tender leaves are studded,
Where spines alone were seen,
The sorrows, that to us seem so perplexing,
Are mercies kindly sent
To guard our wayward souls from sadder vexing,
And greater ills prevent.
To save us from the pit, no screen of roses
Would serve for our defense,
The hindrance that completely interposes
Stings back like thorny fence.
At first when smarting from the shock, complaining
Of wounds that freely bleed,
God’s hedges of severity us paining,
May seem severe indeed.
But afterwards, God’s blessed spring-time cometh,
And bitter murmurs cease;
The sharp severity that pierced us bloometh,
And yields the fruits of peace.
Then let us sing, our guarded way thus wending
Life’s hidden snares among,
Of mercy and of judgment sweetly blending;
Earth’s sad, but lovely song.               
L. B. Cowman

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