That is what I said to Jim last week, to lighten the moment, as we watched the golf ball size hail hammer our roof and bounce off the fence. It was still piled up under the windows and didn’t fully melt until late the next day. This week we will deal with the insurance adjuster, roofing estimates and whatever else comes our way. And, the weather forecast indicates that a repeat performance could occur in the next few days. If you live in Texas, a sense of humor is a healthy necessity. Even more important is the perspective for our earthly lives that only God can give.
Easter Sunday was a beautiful day of celebration. Monday brought emails and phone calls about insurance claims. This week looks beautiful, except for the potential storm that could be severe. The weather forecast is kind of like our Christian lives on earth. Most of our moments are good, but there will be times for all of us that are “hail.”
How do we live with abundant joy every day? How do we focus on the good found in most of our days, instead of the occasional, but inevitable storms? According to Scripture, we “count it all joy” (James 1:2). I think James’s words are among the easiest to hear when things are going well, and some of the most difficult verses to believe when times are tough. It is a challenge to have joy “when you meet trials of various kinds” (1:2).
But James tells us that the joy is possible: “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (1:3). What did James mean by steadfastness? The word “steadfastness” is sometimes translated as patience, which is not a great translation for our culture. The word in Greek is hupomone and doesn’t just mean the ability to endure a trial. The word hupomone is the ability to turn the difficult trials into something great and glorious. The witness of the early Christians was not that the martyrs endured their suffering without complaint; it was that they endured with singing. Somehow, their faith gave them joy during trials.
James went on to write, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Hupomone is fully effective because somehow, enduring with joy causes us to realize that nothing we grieve as loss on this earth was ever permanent anyway. Steadfastness is not just our ability to survive; it is our ability to overcome. If we are Christians, we can live with the knowledge that we are already complete and lacking nothing.
Jesus hung on the cross until every sin was fully covered by his sacrifice. Scripture records that as soon as Jesus accomplished his purpose he went to heaven. Jesus was the first of the three men crucified that day, to die. His legs didn’t need to be broken in order to hurry his death. The death of Christ meant that each of us can “count it all joy.” Our purpose on this earth will be finished one day and we will go to heaven too. We are not just surviving the trials of our lives—we are overcoming our trials. In fact, we are steadfast because we are already complete and lack nothing that matters eternally.
I have been texting with a friend whose daughter is waiting for a diagnosis and treatment plan. At the same time, this friend is watching her very close friend take his last breaths of his earthly life. I can’t seem to worry very much about a new roof these days. It is just money spent one place instead of another. I can easily remember my son Ryan’s days with cancer treatments. I remember feeling like God was barely enough. But God was always enough.
The disciples saw Jesus do miracles for years. I can’t imagine their fear and grief while Jesus was hanging on the cross. Their fear and grief was changed to joy when they realized that Jesus had vacated his tomb. Their lives continued with steadfastness when their grief was overcome by the knowledge that resurrection is a guarantee.
When Jesus walked out of his tomb, He took us with him. We can count it all joy. We are not just enduring the trials of this life, we have already overcome anything this life brings. We can be steadfast because we lack nothing that will matter forever.
I was teasing Jim when I watched our bad weather and said, “Well. . . hail. ” Truthfully, a few days later I’m facing a lot of work, a lot of headache, and a lot of spent money—and none of that matters much in light of my friend’s pain. All I can think about as I reflect on the truth of Scripture are the words from this hymn:
Join us at www.christianparenting.org and chime in on this week’s discussion question: Parents of students, how do you help your children handle the stress of testing?