The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds (James 1:2)
Um, excuse me, James — are you kidding me? At times it seems impossible for me to have joy while facing hardships. I mean, how could I count it as joy when I’m in physical pain? How can I stay calm and not repay the evil words that were thrown into my face? Can I really go on in life when the ones that are dear to me are taken out of this world one by one?
James goes on to say:
… for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:3-4)
When I’m in trouble, whenever my body hurts, if I’m going through hard times I want it fixed right away. In that moment, I don’t care if that testing will (eventually) produce steadfastness — all I can think of is: Please, solve this problem, LORD — and do it right now.
In our fast-paced world we want things fixed asap, don’t we? We write an email to the insurance company and we expect an answer back within a day. These extra pounds of weight we’ve gained over the past months and years, we want them to vanish in weeks or, better yet, within days. 30 minute meal recipes are out: we call for 15 minute meal recipes. Renovation time: Forget about washing it, let’s just paint over it.
A quick fix that’s what we
Many people who lived about 2000 years ago and heard Jesus teach had a wrong idea about why the Messiah came to earth. I think this song says it so clearly:
Through the years You’ve made it clear,
That the time of Christ was near,
Though the people could not see
What Messiah ought to be.
Though Your Word contained the plan,
They just could not understand
Your most awesome work was done
Through the frailty of Your Son.
(El Shaddai — by Michael Card / John Tomson)
They wanted Jesus to be King, to establish His Kingdom right there and then. No longer did they want to go through their tribulations. This is not any different today. We might not ask for certain pleasures, riches and total health but we want most of our troubles fixed here and now — the sooner the better.
Oh, don’t get me wrong: I’m fully convinced that God is perfectly able to perform what He has promised in His Word! Often enough, though, because we are governed by our human understanding and our emotions, we find it hard to accept that we will have tribulations. But let’s find comfort in Jesus’ words:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
This life under the sun will not last forever. There are circumstances when quick fixes (miracles) like instantaneous healing and financial blessings will happen, but there are other times when they don’t. It’s especially during these times that we need to stay focused on Jesus — like the old hymn says:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.