Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
If you are like many people, you have spent a lot more time with your immediate family over the last few years–maybe a little too much time! That was certainly the case for many couples in the early months of the pandemic. During that time, divorce rates rose dramatically. I read an interview with a divorce attorney in California who explained why that was: “They used to be able to get away from each other, during the days or in the evenings with their extracurriculars, but now they haven’t had the opportunity. So now people are more acutely aware that they just can’t stay together.”
In other words, being cooped up with your mate–I mean, spending quality time with your beloved–does not cause problems in a marriage; it reveals problems that were already there. That principle applies to other aspects of our lives, including our relationship with God. Problems from the outside do not fracture our relationship with God; they simply reveal and widen fractures that already existed.
James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (1:2-3). The word for “testing” in that verse, “dokimion,” refers to the process of putting a piece of pottery in a firing oven. Sometimes the heat strengthened that pottery, but other times, the heat revealed a problem in that pottery and caused it to shatter. If the pottery survived the firing oven, the potter would write the word “dokimion” on the bottom, meaning “tested, approved.” But if that piece of pottery shattered, it was discarded.
It is the same way with our faith. When we go through fiery problems in our lives, sometimes those problems can strengthen us, but other times they can cause us to shatter. What is the difference? What is it that determines whether problems strengthen us or destroy us? Faith. Faith is the necessary ingredient that allows us to survive and even thrive in problems rather than be shattered by them. Whether problems draw us closer to God or drive us away from God depends upon faith.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Necessary Ingredient” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Joe Wolch, as quoted in Laura Anthony, “Why Are More Bay Area Couples Seeking Divorce? Attorneys Say COVID-19 Shelter Orders May Be to Blame,” ABC7 News, July 27, 2020, https://abc7news.com/divorce-and-coronavirus-rate-during-surge/6337630/.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org