“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
James 1: 12
Reading: James 1: 2-8
Last Sunday (24th September) we considered the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ Ministry especially in relation to the miracles that are recorded in the Gospels. We considered that the Holy Spirit always pointed to Jesus as the Truth of God, confirmed Him as the Son of God and anointed Him in His ministry. We considered a five-fold purpose in these miracles, to: glorify God; demonstrate the power and presence of God’s Kingdom; confirm who Jesus is; demonstrate how Jesus fulfills the law and prophets; and to bless people and society. These miracles occurred in three areas; the realm of creation; the physical; and the spiritual. We then shared a wonderful time of prayer. During this prayer time, in follow up conversations and in questions asked, the issues of trials and suffering were prominent. How do we connect these Gospel accounts with our lives today?
The Miracle of Life
Life itself is a miracle; that the world exists, life is possible and the world abundant, in its provision. As a Christian, a child of God (1 John 3: 1) I believe that this is a pure gift from God in His sovereignty and providence. The reality of suffering, pain and trials is also very clear. For some, a ‘miracle’ is needed every day to survive and continue. We may face: the loss of a loved one; a serious illness; financial difficulties; betrayal; separation; breakdown in relationships; or life-threatening situations. I record these examples because I have experienced them all; I want you to know that I am writing from personal experience not simply a theoretical understanding. I have found the truth and reality of life in and through Jesus to be the answer.
When we place our trust in God through Jesus we are ‘born again,’ (John 3: 6-7) and His Holy Spirit enters us and lives within us (1 Cor 3: 16); a miracle of new life and a new relationship. The Holy Spirit can then empower and enable us in our trials to persevere; He can even heal and provide grace that is sufficient for us in our trials and weaknesses (2 Cor. 12: 9).
There is an eternal perspective to this matter too - God promises us the ‘Crown of Life,’ eternity beyond this time; a true miracle of life.
Having this knowledge can encourage us in perseverance and help us to see our situations from a different perspective. Trials and suffering can be something that God uses to help and bless us (Romans 8: 28). It can be a time that enables us to truly trust God and grow in our relationship with Him AND we have the reassurance that there is a guaranteed future for us without any of this pain (Rev. 21: 3-4).
Prayer, faith and the Church are essential ingredients to perseverance and to overcoming. Our faith in God and prayer and the prayers and faith of our brothers and sisters in the Church for us.
The Question of Application
What promise of God’s, in Scripture, can you pray, for a situation you or someone else is facing?
Almighty God, at this time, grant us endurance and encouragement and the same attitude of mind that Christ Jesus had. Grant us an inward anointing of the Holy Spirit. In mercy forgive us our sins, release us from suffering and restore us to wholeness and strength. May you, the God of hope, fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in you, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) – Hillsong Worship
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.