Ore to Gold
Helen Keller, both deaf and blind, once said, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” It all depends on the perspective you choose to have.
While we are suffering, we feel uncomfortable. Often, the pain we endure does not allow us to see beyond the distress we experience. Putting things in perspective seems quite impossible. Yet, if we want to follow Jesus and be His disciples, denying ourselves and taking up our cross is mandatory. In Christ, what may seem to be a total defeat is a victory.
The worldly perspective on winning is clear. We measure winning by what we accumulate – fame, money, or followers. Our success is measured by the physical treasures we put in our storage sheds.
In contrast, the biblical view of winning is not about what we can accumulate but who we are. It is about character. We win life by being, not by getting. True victory is learning to encounter our trials with character.
Only by taking this view of success can we celebrate the struggle. Like ore refined by pressure, we become who we are by facing our trials with courage and a proper perspective. Coal is turned into diamonds by the stress put upon it. The same is true for us.
If we take the earthly view of success, it makes sense to avoid pain. What accumulation is there in suffering? What tangible prize do we get from our sorrow? In a strictly practical sense, suffering has no market value. It is a setback. Endurance is an obstacle to be diminished, rather than an opportunity to grow.
But in God’s economy, suffering is a path. Trials are a testing ground, an arena to develop and exercise our character.
James tells us to “consider it joy” when we encounter trials. James presents life as a championship match. It is an opportunity to walk with the Lord, overcome self-seeking, endure, and persevere when we encounter trials.
We are ore being refined into gold. We are not pirates gathering treasure. We are people becoming treasure – pursuing the character and perspective of God. The opportunity presented is for us to become complete; to be all God created us to be. Material wealth ends up in a landfill, but spiritual wealth is like enduring gold.
The book of James is about how to win at life. We win by walking in faith (rather than in our own strength) and through the wisdom of God (rather than of this world). The key to winning is overcoming the trials of life. This is one of the ingredients for the recipe for victory!