We Want to Make Much of Him
The idea the Lord’s half-brother James led off his epistle with, is particularly counter-intuitive to our modern, Western mind set.
“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
It’s a familiar passage to people who have been in a Bible-teaching church, but it may seem just as odd, or a powerless cliché in the hearts of those who hear it from inside the church as to those on the outside.
Think of it. The response to adversity and crises such as financial loss, broken relationship, loss of status or even potentially life-threatening sickness is supposed to be…joy? Surely this is some kind of symbolism or play on words.
But there it is, right in the Scripture. The response for God’s people to these hardships is supposed to be joy, an inner contentment and satisfaction steeled against all circumstances.
The passage goes on to say why we should count it as joy, and that’s where our article subject comes in.
Debbie and Willie Jones were not sure about having an article written about their situation. Debbie (if you’re reading this you probably know her and already know this) was diagnosed with cancer, has been undergoing chemotherapy and is scheduled for surgery on June 3.
Their concern about the article wasn’t that they want their situation to be secret, but that they would be the center of attention somehow, rather than God.
“We want much to be made of Him,” is how Willie put it.
Well that is my goal too, I assured them, and so as I affirm that I like these two and admire their faith, I also want to make clear I know it is due to God’s gracious provision that they can respond this way, just as the above verse mentions.
Paul put it in a similar way in Romans 5:3 - “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.”
He explains a little later in the letter that context, or recognizing the big picture, is a big part of understanding this idea:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18
Debbie is not impervious to normal, human reactions to bad news. Upon learning of her cancer diagnosis in January, she felt fear, she admitted.
But fear was quickly overtaken by other feelings and understanding.
“The Lord was so near. I haven’t questioned Him at all through any of this,” Debbie said. “God is sovereign and there is reason for the things He allows in our lives. There is a purpose behind this. I don’t question Him.”
“We’re Christ-followers. He suffered far more than this for me,” she continued. “If this is what He uses to bring others to Christ or to bring our family closer to the Lord, it’s His choice. There’s no anger or doubt.”