Quick, answer this question: what’s 3 times 8?
As a parent, there are three major hurdles I’ve jumped with my kids: potty training, learning to read, and memorizing multiplication tables. My three kids have conquered these skills, but it wasn’t easy. And now I have to teach them how to drive! (Yikes.)
As an adult, we take it for granted that we know our multiplication tables. But as an 8-year-old staring at the giant table of 144 numbers to learn, it seems overwhelming. Yes, there were some tears. For all of us. But the hours of drilling and repeating and chanting out loud, “3 times 1 is 3. 3 times 2 is 6. 3 times 3 is 9 . . .” eventually resulted in my kids instinctively knowing the answer to 3 times 8.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
In today’s passage, James is reminding his readers that God has a purpose in their suffering. The testing of their faith will produce steadfastness, and steadfastness will lead to spiritual maturity. James says we should count it all joy when our trials produce these traits in us.
Steadfastness and spiritual maturity may feel about as exciting to you as learning multiplication tables. But from the Lord’s perspective, our steadfastness is beautiful. Just as my kids’ time memorizing math facts will not be wasted, your suffering will not be wasted. It will produce God’s desired effect: the growth of your faith and character, your perseverance in hope, and your full equipping for the next task God has for you. And from an eternal viewpoint, that’s a great reason to rejoice!
No matter what you face this week, God will use your suffering to produce steadfastness.
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