James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
As I was reading from verse 1, I first thought I would be writing on verses 2-4, but this is much the same message. Scriptures on perseverance and patient endurance are scattered throughout the Bible, because that is an essential tool for making a success of life. This is also a very timely reminder, because so many people are chaffing under shelter-in-place orders. This is all appropriate to our whole generation, because we live in a time of instant gratification, and patience seems to be a forgotten virtue for many. Tolerance for delayed gratification has long been recognized as a major marker of maturity, and pursuit of a goal over a long period of time has traditionally been admired. The thing is, life has lots of junk we don’t like, just as Jesus said. (John 16:33) If we get stuck on the junk, we won’t be able to enjoy the abundance of good stuff God provides as well. If we stick it out through the junk, we recognize all sorts of blessings we may have overlooked before. A little while back I stubbed my right big toe so hard it turned purple, and in the process fell and sprained my right thumb. That was no fun at all, but as a result I am very appreciative of being able to walk without pain and being able to grip things firmly with either hand. Life is full of abundant blessings we don’t recognize because we take them for granted, and that is a major loss. Trials open our eyes to what we genuinely need, and to the Father who meets those needs if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) The current situation with COVID-19 is more severe for some people than for others, and if we look around, we can almost always see someone in a worse situation than we are. We need to thank God for the training in maturity and for the opportunity to help others, where we can meet their need.
This naturally applies to me. To this point I have only had to endure minor inconvenience because of the virus, but Japan seems to be later in the curve than the US. The school where I teach has been closed for at least two weeks, and as an “outside instructor” I am paid only for hours taught. Likewise two of three weddings scheduled for March were postponed or canceled, and all weddings for April and May are off the schedule, so my income has taken a decided hit. I haven’t seen any of the “stimulus money” from the US, even though I am a Social Security recipient, and I’m not likely to receive the Japanese equivalent that is due next month because I’m not a Japanese citizen. However, God is my supply and at this point we aren’t hurting. I am being stretched in ways that don’t always feel good at the time, but I know the long-term effects will be good. I am not to focus on the negatives, but rather rejoice that my Lord loves me enough to keep working on me, growing and shaping me as He knows I need.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that Nagasaki Prefecture isn’t on “lock down,” despite the recent bump in COVID-19 cases from the Italian cruise ship that docked in Nagasaki City for repairs. I didn’t know any of those were still out! Thank You that the Japanese medical system is excellent. I ask Your grace and mercy, not just here but around the world, that Your purposes in allowing this to happen will be fulfilled on every level. I can see some potential huge good, but I’m not in control, and that’s a good thing. May indeed Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Praise God!