God of patience and comfort, give us an attitude like Christ Jesus. Amen.
Text: James 1:2-12
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Troubles always come where Jesus is Lord in heart and home. It is always necessary that we be tested in suffering, for in that way we can be freed from relying on things of this world. I have read and thought at least a hundred times that I should not expect peace and good days on earth. But before I knew it, I thought again when this or that was over, this or that happened, that I would have an earthly paradise, and rest and relax. O dear heart, you shall surely receive an immovable kingdom, perfect rest, and never-ending pleasure, but not until you are in heaven. That’s why it is still necessary for you to suffer here on earth, and to learn to rejoice in trials and give praise for them. If you could, you would break loose, forsake the Lord, and seek happiness in earthly pleasure. Perhaps you would find a certain happiness in it for a little while, but then you don’t know what could happen tomorrow. For what is your life? “It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jam 4:14). Earthly riches and glory fade like flowers. The only way to daily happiness is patience. You must have trouble and pain as a Christian, so that the old Adam may die with its love for corruptible riches and honor, self-indulgence, its impure lusts, its many kinds of idolatrous things. You must learn to rely on God alone. You need to believe in Him with your whole heart to conquer your terrible enemies: the devil and death. But such a whole heart you do not have and you do not get without tribulations. For whether we are poor or rich, we still want to have some earthly good things in reserve. Whether we are gross sinners or fine and faithful people, we still want to rely a little on ourselves. Only patience produces perfect works. The Lord gives and takes away. He leads into the fire and out of it. He allows the devil and our flesh and the world to tempt us. The rich shall learn to boast of their poverty, and the poor of their wealth. Thus the heart shall be completely and fully the Lord’s, and He alone the rock of our confidence. He has promised wisdom: knowledge of His works and ways, so we can rejoice and give thanks for everything, and He has promised the crown of life hereafter. Blessed are those who have Him alone as God. He helps us come to that by our sufferings. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Full waterpots become vessels full of wine.
Dear heavenly Father, give us true wisdom. Grant us to believe in You with our whole heart. Grant us patience, so we glorify You with thanks for suffering, and grant us finally, after our trials are completed, a crown of life. Amen.
Sorrow and gladness are sister and brother,
Fortune, misfortune, both stand side by side.
Gain and adversity follow each other,
Sunshine makes shadows and there evil hides.
Gold has no worth After our death.
Lay up your treasures in heaven, not earth.
Loveliest roses grow out of the briar,
Beautiful flowers grow deadliest fruit.
Under the laughter the heart may be crying
Under the joy may be grief at the root.
Deep in the rose Evil may grow.
Only in heaven is life free from woe.
There will my sorrow and suff’ring be ended,
There will God grant me a crown and reward.
There will I sing and my spirit be tended
In the sweet mansions prepared by my Lord.
Sorrow will die Under God’s eye.
Heaven will blossom like roses on high.
Kingo: Sorgen og Glæde L 208:5-7 (We substitute 1.4.5) tr. G. Grindal ©1983 Selah Publshing Company. Used by permission.;
tune: Sorgen og Glæde (Jensen’s Koralbog); alternate hymn: What God ordains is always good ELH 519