“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4
In Cornwall, England, you can visit a place called The Eden Project. The Eden Project attempted to build the perfect environment in which plants and trees could flourish. Obviously named for the Garden of Eden, this collection of “biomes,” huge domes, provides a tightly monitored atmosphere with a perfect temperature range and humidity. There are no insects and there is no pollution. What more could a tree want?
But there was a problem.
After this wonder of science was built, the scientists on the project noticed something strange. The leaves on the big trees were beginning to wilt and the branches were starting to droop. Puzzled, they consulted a tree expert. After studying the situation, he reported, “Your problem is that there is no wind in the environment. It’s the wind that pushes and moves the tree fibers forcing the nutrients and moisture to be drawn up from the ground. Trees need the stress of the wind or they won’t thrive!”
How much is that like our lives? A lot!
Given a choice, we would construct our own little “Eden Project” around our homes, our families, our dreams, and our futures. In our bubble, we would have just the right emotional climate—a controlled and restricted atmosphere where we could click the delete button keeping out unwanted news and pain. Trouble would be carefully filtered before it could reach us, keeping us well protected from the “pollution” of suffering and heartache. In our dream world, we would no doubt think that designing this stress-free environment would provide a spiritual climate in which we could thrive!
Right? Well, not really.
James points out that our lives need a little “wind” if we are going to grow and mature. In fact, we are called to choose an attitude of joy in the face of life’s storms, trusting by faith that God is going to use them to help us grow. James says that the trials you and I face, whatever shape they take, test our faith. They are there to reveal whether or not we really believe the things we say we believe on Sunday mornings at church. Do we trust that God is good all the time? Do we really believe that His faithfulness is great and that His mercies are new every morning? Do we have the confidence that His faithfulness never fails and that He never bails on us when the storm clouds rise?
As your faith holds, strong perseverance—your ability to “hang in there”—enables you to stay faithful and steady in the face of the divine storm. And, as you patiently stay under the stress of the “wind,” God will make you “complete, not lacking anything.”
It’s the wind of life that stretches and presses the spiritual fibers of your heart to bring nourishment and vitality to your soul.
And, just in case you missed it, look back at the beginning of today’s passage. Did you catch it? James says, “Whenever you face trials,” not “if you face trials.” The storms of life are a given. And while these storms can be heart-wrenching, terrifying, and truly, truly dark at times, I am encouraged and reassured from Scripture to know that these trials are not random. They are yet another way that God is helping us grow, flourish, and mature. And if we understand that, then we can choose, by faith in our Father, to welcome His perfecting storm.
- How have some of the storms of your life shaped and matured your faith in the past? What have you learned about God through them?
- What storms are you facing at the moment? What is God teaching you in the midst of the storm?
- Sometimes we need additional encouragement and perspective in the storm. Do you have Christian friends that can come alongside you during a season of trial and difficulty?