Blessed By Hanging In There!
Staying the course. It’s a phrase we all must live by to keep us from wandering from our faith, our spouse, or even from our job, when we face trouble, testing, or boredom.
Perhaps I contradict myself by saying that I intended to “stay the course” in my study of James, chapter 1 – to continue at verse 12 and dig in to an entire paragraph.
But verse 12 stopped me in my tracks: “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Blessed: We’ve heard this before!
If James was with Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, then James has heard this promise as well. We read it in Matthew 5: 1-12.
“When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
James writes verse 12 in the context of trials.
Tapping on the word “Blessed,” opens up the greek meaning: “possessing the favor of God, being marked by fullness from God.”
This is very different from some traditional teaching you might have heard that defines blessed as “happy.” In fact, the definition goes on to state that blessed “differs from the word ‘happy’ (a happy person has good luck). To be blessed is equivalent to having God’s Kingdom within one’s heart (Matthew 5:3, 10). Aristotle contrasted it to a word meaning ‘needy one.’”
Those who are blessed then, are full, not needy, despite any and all circumstances, including trials.
Blessed by Perseverance
The key then to this kind of blessing is how we handle the circumstances of life. Do we give up? Or do we hang in there with perseverance?
Tapping on the word “perseverance” we read this definition: “to remain under, endure, sustain, bear up under, suffer (as a load of miseries) adversities, persecutions or provocations with faith. One’s response toward circumstances.”
If the trials and testings of life feel like a dark cloud at times, then we can know that if we “remain under” them, we will be blessed – or made full.
What Lies Beyond the Trial?
My husband and I recently faced a time of trial and testing in the area of employment. In addition to the grief of leaving a job and a church, we had to endure a time of financial change and testing.
But the encouragement in this tiny verse is that if we persevere, if we bear up under this testing, we will be blessed. And not the kind of blessed that people often reference on their social media posts (think “#Blessed!”).
This kind of “blessed” is deeper, richer, and more full. It’s a favor of God that’s not based on our circumstances.
In fact, we can know that as we persevere through any kind of trial, the “crown of life” is in store for us! This crown represents our eternal reward waiting for those of us who do not give up.