There is one thing I have noticed about going through trials and hardships; perspective is everything. Some would say that keeping a positive attitude is what will get you through but I say having the proper perspective before you go in is what will make sure that you come back out. Perspective will decide your priorities and priorities will decide what you value. These are all important elements of facing trails and hardships with joy. Ask yourself, according to your perspective of life, what is the goal? Answering that will tell you a great deal.
For many people the goal of life is to be happy, at peace and comfortable. Really? Is this all there is? For others it is the accumulation of wealth. Then what? Remember the parable Jesus told of the farmer that had a bountiful crop? It was so large that he decided to build extra barns to store it all away. Then he died. So what use were the extra barns? What use was the bountiful crop? As James continues his discourse on facing trials and hardships we read;
The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. (James 1:9-11)
It is a warning that we need to be careful to maintain a proper perspective as we travel on our journey with Jesus. Many things are going to change on this journey; money will come and go; health will come and go; friends will come and go. Everything changes but the goal, which is to be transformed with the same character as Jesus Christ and to enter our promised rest with our Father. With such a perspective we will realize that we can lose anything in this life, including our life and still achieve our goal. What is money or possessions compared to Jesus? What is our health compared to Jesus? What are friends compared to Jesus?
We should be careful to travel our own journey with Jesus and not try to copy someone else. Our Father loves us all the same, has no favourites, but yet we are all different, with different needs and different weaknesses. Remember, Dad's desire is to prepare us for eternity with him which means we all need to face different things in order to grow into maturity. Sometimes Dad may be forced to remove things from our lives that become a stumbling block to our eternity. Remember the rich young man who Jesus told to go sell all that he had and to give it to the poor, then come follow him. The riches may have been what was preventing this man from stepping into his destiny.
I am only using money as an example because it is what James has used here. Money is not evil but it certainly is a weakness for a lot of people who give up their eternity to pursue it. However, there are many things that have that same effect on people. Sometimes it can be a career which becomes a source of pride and ego. For others it may be the accumulation of friends. For others their stumbling block may be their talent, the pursuit of entertainment, the obsession with health or a hundred other things that can distract us. But what happens to us in trials and hardships when we lose some of these things that have become our goal? What happens when we go bankrupt or we lose our hair or we end up with cancer? Does our world come to an end? Is our hope dashed upon the rocks of circumstances? Do we fall into a deep depression? Or do we press on because these things are just minor things compared to our goal of eternity?
You would be surprised at what you can face, walk through and survive when your perspective is right because your goal is right. It is amazing how things can slip away from you and you are not paralyzed by the pain of it because your eyes are fixed on that goal. The only way to guarantee that you will be okay when you face those trails and hardships is to check that perspective and that goal right now. What is the goal of your life? I pray that you are honestly able to say - Jesus!