Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
I frequently find myself talking with people who are enduring trials. Sometimes they are suffering, and suffering very badly. Life is tough. Often we wonder why we are suffering, why life is so rough on us, why it could be possible for a good and loving God to allow such hardship. Our reading from James 1:12-18 gives us a very helpful commentary.
First, we notice that the harships of our life serve to prepare us for our eternal reward in Christ. Through hardship we develop a longing for that which is good. Through facing our failure, the sin of others, and the generally difficult conditions of this world, we find ourselves less and less willing to submit to a life under the curse of sin.
Second, we realize that our hardship, our temptation, is not from God, but is from our own sinful desires. Why is it so hard for me to avoid entering into sin? It’s not because God likes sin, but because I like sin. I become familiar with my own nature and realize that I am not to be trusted. I can then look at God’s nature and realize that he is the only one any reasonable person would ever trust.
Finally, we recognize that the good things we desire are ultimately a gift of God. By his nature God is good. All his gifts are good. Are we ready to recognize those good gifts of God as what they are? Or are we going to continue to be entrapped by our own evil desire? When we consider God’s love and mercy shown to this world in Christ, who gave his own life to suffer the penalty for sin which we deserved, then we are ready to look for the Lord’s coming in grace. The hardships of this life point us to the grace and mercy of God.
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