Summary: When the going gets tough, the tough remains intact!
I slumped on my couch in front of my newly purchased (on installment) LCD TV and watched the news one night, as I munched a paper bag of caramel-coated pop corn, and alternately sipped a large mug of ice-cold cola placed on a coffee table to my right. Not a healthy habit, I know. On my screen was a Cruise Ship that got caught in a fierce storm in the Caribbean. All passengers were successfully airlifted to safety while the luxury ship was being laboriously maneuvered by few experts, obviously the captain and some of his trusted marine engineers. As the ship battles for her survival against nature’s fury, I noticed that on every gigantic wave that pokes her, the captain would maneuver the ship directly engaging the waves. After hours of bobbing on and off against the raging waves, the luxury ship survived with minor damages.
I think that life, even spiritual life, is like that. When fierce storms come crashing on us, it is not the time to retreat, withdraw or escape. We have a better chance to survive, let alone, succeed, if we do not give up. They say, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. But I would rather exclaim, “When the going gets tough, the tough remains intact”.
Shall we read our text:
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
James 1:4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:12 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.
The word, “Perseverance” that the apostle James used in this passage is made up of two Greek words, “Hupo”, meaning “under or beneath” and “Meno”, meaning “remain or abide”. That would give us a established notion that to persevere in our circumstances is to literally “remain under the brunt of our situations” and learn what God is teaching us experientially. It is not time to reconsider an option, not a time to back away, and not a time to just pretend it is not happening. This is why I would firmly assert, “When the going gets tough, the tough remains intact”.
Nonetheless, we need to realize what lessons God is teaching us whenever we get stuck into difficult situations. During these times of fierce storms of life, I would suggest that:
1. It’s Time to Regroup.
2. It’s Time to Renew, and
3. It’s Time to Reload.
In the Pacific, this season is a season of monsoon rains and typhoons. But all year round, for all Christians, it is time for spiritual storms. When problems come rushing, battering us like a storm, we must realize that:
1. It’s TIME to REGROUP!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
To regroup I would mean that we should calmly and objectively evaluate our situations. God has given us mental faculties. Reason is God’s gift to mankind. We have a reasoning power that far exceeds the reasoning faculties of any other creatures.
a. We must ALIGN our PRIORITIES
Many of the words of the Lord Jesus talk about priorities. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength”. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”. Read through the gospels, and you’ll discover numbers of verses with similar tone. If you are facing a difficult situation, battered by recurring problems, weighed down by burdens almost impossible to bear… align your priorities with God’s prescribed ones.
b. We must ARRANGE our PERSPECTIVES
Often we view our difficult circumstances as repercussions of our past wrongdoings. Well, unfortunately sometimes they really are. But look a little farther ahead. They are meant to make us a better person, provided that we learn from them. We may not get materially compensated in going through those times, but surely hard times would develop our character. Our text says, “The testing of your faith develops perseverance”.
Years ago, some amateur psychologists interviewed the medalists in any principle of sports. They were surprised, to a point close to confusion, to discover that most of the Bronze medalists are much happier than the Silver medalists. We all know very well that Silver medalists are the Second Placers, whereas, the Bronze medalists are the Third placers, lower than the Silver medalists. But these amateur psychologists can explain their find rationally. The Bronze medalists are happy because they won their last match, while the Silver medalists lost in their last match.