Links Daily Devotional

Mind Field

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

Your friend shows up to the driving range with a new driver with a lot of excitement and expectations. As you see drives blistered, you say to yourself “I must try this!”

Everyone loves a shiny new toy. Same with a new putter that can’t miss the hole!

Golf magazines are full of new ideas and new equipment. If you had a choice between a new toy that will fix everything, or spending about 100 hours on your swing plane on the range, most of us would choose the toy! Where is the joy in toiling away at something and seeing only incremental results along the way, including steps back?

That is why today’s passage of Scripture is so challenging to us. When we think of “pure joy,” adversity doesn’t naturally come to mind. Playtime and snow cones are more like it! A shiny new trophy, but surely not finishing last. We like the new toy—the wealth, the influence, the power, the comfort, the ease. If perseverance was presented in a gift exchange, it would get passed right along or chosen last.

Our human nature wants to flee from the difficult, the painful. Our mind considers such things bad, and when faced with trials we immediately look for a way out. When Jesus announced his upcoming suffering and death to the disciples in Matthew 16, Peter, unable to comprehend this, took Jesus aside and proceeded to rebuke him saying: “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” In Matthew 16:23 we read, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’”

So we must fix our minds on the things of God. But how do we do that? James 1:5 helps us find the answer. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” He does not leave us to our own intellect to decipher this; he is a God of relationship and will transform our hearts and minds if we ask him.

When we have in mind the things of God, then we can look at the passage in James again. Trials and testing produce perseverance, so James wrote: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I once heard a preacher say about this: “Who doesn’t want to get there? Who doesn’t want to live that life?” In our right mind, we all want that.

The problem is that it is not easy to live by this truth while we are going through trials. And we are not unique in our experience. The disciples deserted Jesus after his death; Peter denied him three times. But after the resurrection, things changed. The assurance of eternal life through Jesus’ victory over death and sin, and the evidence that he was indeed the Son of God, made sense of the temporary suffering that had to happen. When all that he had said prior to the unfolding of his amazing sacrifice came back to their minds—in other words, when they had in mind the things of God again after a spell of fear and grief—they saw that what happened was good. They were in turn encouraged by his example to persevere through severe trials, because they knew their Savior and God had overcome all.

The only thing ever threatened for us in this world is our flesh and fleshly desires. The heavenly place is never at risk when we are in Christ. This is indeed a joyful end!

Isabelle Beisiegel

June 11, 2012

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