Links Daily Devotional

In the Meantime, Part 5: Persevering

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4, NIV)

In February of 1949, at age 36, Ben Hogan and his wife, Valerie, survived a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus. Hogan actually threw himself across his wife in order to protect her, and would have certainly been killed had he not done so, as the steering column punctured the driver’s seat. However, the accident left him with a double-fracture of the pelvis, a broken collar bone and left ankle, a chipped rib, and near-fatal blood clots that initiated lifelong circulation problems and other physical limitations.

This event came right in the middle of an unbelievably successful career that had already been interrupted once by a 26-month stint of World War II military service, and now Hogan found himself fighting for his life in a hospital where his doctors initially told him he might never walk again, let alone play golf competitively. However, with determination and resolve Ben Hogan amazingly returned to professional golf less than a year later and went on to achieve what is one of the greatest sporting accomplishments in history, as he won 12 more professional titles including an astonishing six major championships on a limited schedule. The Ben Hogan story offers us a sharp picture of perseverance.

Perseverance not only endears athletes to the viewing public in sports and its writers, but according to James, the brother of Jesus, this characteristic as it pertains to our faith is also the measure of our spiritual maturity. And though we may not all be fighting for our lives in a hospital, many of us find ourselves “in the meantime” of life fighting a physical, emotional, relational, financial, or circumstantial battle that feels like we’ve been hit head on by a proverbial Greyhound bus. The outlook isn’t good.

Often different from some of our attitudes of entitlement, there actually was no contradiction in the mind of James, the brother of Jesus, or any of the New Testament authors. They knew that they would face adversity in their lives and that a loving, all-powerful God was in control.

James wrote in his first chapter, “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your [perseverance] has a chance to grow. So let it grow for when your [perseverance] is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you” (NLT).

Your first thought may be something like mine: “Needing nothing? That seems a little overstated. After all, God doesn’t know what I am going through. Because if he knew what I was going through he’d know I need more than wisdom; I need divine intervention. I need a miracle!”

Then I realized that maybe my trials are the miracles, and it is in my trials that God shows up to do something in my heart. It’s not usually what I initially want, but he always comes to grow me and develop me into the kind of person that can do amazing things! Because if trials produce persevering faith and spiritual maturity is measured in those terms and not perfect behavior, then I can assume that what doesn’t kill me not only makes me stronger, it makes me more into what God wants me to become: someone with perseverance.

Josh Nelson
December 15, 2014
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