In ancient Christianity there was recognized a Christian discipline called “The practice of renunciation.” It was an intentional fight against temptations that the things and possessions of this world inherently posed as a threat against the Christian faith.
Amma Theodora expressed it this way: “Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms, cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and without many trials and temptations we cannot obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven” [F. M. Young. (2007). Brokenness and Blessing: Towards a Biblical Spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing House; page 22].
Standing up before the storm, in the form of trials and temptations—what a daily challenge! We prefer not to have to do that. But as Theodora so rightly points out, we know that facing the storm develops strength, fortitude and resiliency.
The apostles James confirms this reality when he says, “ Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
Not only is it hard to stand up before the storm, but James is so bold as to challenge us to do it with joy! Why is it this way? Notice the reason:
· Testing of our faith produces perseverance
· Perseverance finishes its work
· So that we can be mature and complete
Our faith-walk in maturity and completeness demands facing trials and temptations! This is the reason for such joy. We have the ability to perceive the eventual outcome and the blessings of facing many different kinds of trials. James and Theodora nowhere indicate it has to feel good at the moment! But, the eventual outcome is so rich and so formative that we would desire no other way to live! In Christian love, Curtis