Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12.
Someone has said: “Life is hard, then you die.” For those without a life giving faith, that about sums it up. For many in the world who scratch out a living in abject poverty, and for those who are victims of earth’s convulsions, or men’s violence, life hardly makes sense—this is not the way life should be.
Yet we all face trials of life to a greater or lesser degree. The question is: “How are we going to react?” How we react to distress of any kind determines, not only the outcome for ourselves and those we love, but also whether any benefit accrues from it.
The idea of benefit from major distress appears laughable, yet James, a few verses earlier writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. But perseverance requires hope.
Without hope, there is no point in persevering under adversity. If there is no relief from the hardships of life, there really is no point in carrying on. The tragedy of so much marriage break-up is the lack of hope that the opposing positions of each partner can ever be resolved.
Yet, experience has shown that a strong marriage is built on such troubled times. Lack of hope will kill love, but hope can rekindle it. A ship’s captain doesn’t learn his craft on a calm sea, nor is marriage secured without conflict. In a real sense, perseverance can bring life to a dying marriage.
And our text reminds us that perseverance will bring us a crown of life. Now the idea of floating around heaven with a crown on my head is quite unappealing. Life itself is the crown. The renewal of a failing marriage, or recovery from personal adversity, is but a reflection of the life to come for those whose perseverance has established the validity of their faith.