The Lord has stirred my heart lately with these passages from James 1:
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4 NKJV)
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12 NKJV)
James begins his epistle with a clear perspective on eternity. As I was reading it, I realized how temporally minded I am. So often when I am hit with a trial or a disruption in my life I complain, moan, and wish that it had never happened. But after spending much time in this passage in James I realized my perspective needed to be changed.
James tells us to rejoice and be happy when trials come our way. How opposite is that of the way we typically react! Why should we "count it all joy"? These trials produce the quality of character in us that makes us qualify for the "crown of life" promised to those faithful to endure to the end. We cannot produce the kind of endurance and faithfulness that Jesus is looking for without pressure on our life. It's the same picture of how a diamond is formed - without the intense pressures, the lump of coal can never be formed into a diamond. The caterpillar without the struggle cannot turn into a butterfly.
Our problem is that we never connect our trials in this age with our reward in the age to come. We see an assault against us and don't see it as a necessary process to form the kind of heart response to be "approved" (James 1:12) by God. We have the wrong thinking that the trials in this age make our circumstances better in this age. We want the perspective James is speaking of here - that when trials come our way, we understand it is working in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory:
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NKJV)
I want to stay steady in this, even when nobody is looking, knowing that trials, demotions, and "stings" - though hard to bear in this age sometimes - are working something so much deeper in my spirit than I know. I need much more of a revelation of the Godly wisdom of trials and the revelation of eternity. My prayer is that your heart would be awakened to this too!