“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” — James 1:2–3
The testing of your faith through trials produces endurance. What is the opposite of endurance? Well, I suppose the opposite of “endurance” is “petering out”. When faith doesn't endure it peters out. So if you don't want your faith to peter out then you need some trials. Because James says it is trials that “produce endurance.”
This is odd. Most of us would say that faith endures in spite of trials, not because of trials. Most of us think that when trouble comes faith is threatened. We don't usually attribute the duration of faith to the trouble it meets. But duration is what endurance means. James says, faith lasts, faith endures, because it meets trouble and threat.
This is odd. We might be willing to say that faith becomes deeper or stronger through trials. But that's not the same as saying that faith endures because of trials. That's like saying a marathon runner is able to finish the race because he keeps getting bumped into. Would any runner say that his ability to endure to the end of a race is enhanced by the number of people that knock him down?
Perhaps. Suppose there was a runner who loved flowers. Here he is, running along at the head of the pack when all of a sudden he is carried away by the beauty of a rose garden beside Lake Calhoun. Forgetting the race and the reward of the wreath, he starts to leave the road and smell the flowers. But all of a sudden, out of nowhere, someone (!!) knocks him flat on his back. It hurts so bad that his nose for roses is gone. But suddenly he realizes that the race is still on and only those who finish get a prize. And he is up and running.
And if this happens several times, some clever sports writer might write an article and say, “Hey rose-lover, count it all joy when you get knocked down, because it produces endurance—the only runner in the marathon who finished the race because some 'fan' kept knocking him down!”
Maybe it's us runners who are odd, not God.
And could it be that the health, wealth and prosperity teaching of our day is the enemy of faith because it teaches that faith's best friend is her enemy?
Heading for the tape with you,