Have you ever been on a boat? How about being on one during a storm? Watching the waves crash down around you can be scary. I remember, in high school, riding kayaks with a friend of mine on the local lake, Lake Livingston. There was a bridge over the lake that connected the towns of Livingston and Onalaska. This bridge was between 5 and 10 miles from my friend’s grandparents’ house and dock we would take off from. One day, we tried to reach it. The further out we got the bigger the waves became, and there was a storm coming in over the lake. We barely passed the half way point when we had to turn back because of the waves. We were afraid that the waves would overcome us, and we would be lost in the lake due to the storm. We focused all of our energy and sight on getting back to his grandfather’s dock…to safety.
James compares the trials we face as believers, as Christians, to waves tossing a boat around on the water. This comparison especially takes place when we doubt in our faith because of our trials. Christians face many different trials in today’s world. There are Christians that are being killed because of their faith. Most of us here in America probably only face ridicule from friends, family, and society. We can often feel ostracized or become weary from trying to defend our faith. Arguments and proofs are thrown at us that make us question our faith. We can then tend to feel as if it would be better and easier to hide or even deny our faith. We lose heart, we begin to doubt, and then we lose faith.
This is what James exhorts us not to do. He encourages us to stand strong. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you won’t stand for something, then you’ll fall for anything.” This tells me that if you don’t stand firm in your beliefs, then you’ll be knocked over by opposing ideas. (Or if you don’t stand firm in your belief, then you’ll believe anything else.) Think about football players. They stand firm on their defensive line to block attacker from getting to their quarterback. These men have to stand firm to be able to stand against the opposing team. If they lack strength or effort, then the opposing team can knock them over and sack the QB. James tells us to stand firm in our beliefs and to persevere through our trials.
The footballers are rewarded by their strength and perseverance by being able to score a touchdown, and maybe even winning the game. James tells us that our reward for standing firm in our faith is so much greater than some trophy. He says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (1:12). The crown of life is our salvation, our hope, and our everlasting life with God.
So, I encourage you, dear believer, just like James, to stand firm in your faith through any trials you may face. We all have or will face difficult times. They can be as simple as ridicule or as severe as death. But our reward is so much greater than and worth anything we face now.