The villains always seem to have the best
lines. . . In the movie, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite
cheesy sci-fi Bruce Willis movies, the evil John Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg
(enough biblical, anti-Christological references there?), played by Gary
Oldham, has a great line: "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
I think his character liked to say this because, well, he was generally
trying to cause mayhem, kill people, ruin their lives, and unleash the
Ultimate Evil in the universe (a standard plot point in this kind of movie).
The saying has some truth, but not much. For Zorg, it was a justification
for his evil life. The same could be said for many people today -
this kind of attitude excuses indifference, callousness, injustice and
In our current adult Church on Wednesday
classes, we're studying the book of James, and one of my favorite sections
of this book is James 1 :2-4 - "My brothers and sisters, whenever you face
trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that
the testing of your faith produces endurance; and endurance have its full
effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing."
"Consider it joy when you face trials,"
James writes. It almost sounds like the same sort of sentiment,
but really they are not. The first saying, from the movie, is a very
stoic, self-reliant justification for evil in the world (and often our
participation it, too). James' advice to Christians is very different.
By placing our trust in God and relying on him for strength, for growth
and for direction, we ACTUALLY WILL grow and mature through the
difficult things of life. Further, we can so completely rely on God's
care for us that we can be joyful when we see difficult times coming.
Is that an overstatement? Should
we be saying, "OH BOY! Another miserable day! More rotten stuff
is happening to me! I'm so happy!"? Well, ok, maybe that's
over the top. But if we can move in the direction of seeing God's
hand guiding us through those difficult moments, helping us deepen our
faith and trust in him, helping our character and endurance level grow,
then perhaps we can see where James is trying to lead us.
Should we look for trouble in life?
Perhaps not. But we needn't fear it either, because as we move through
life in faith, acting in love and living in forgiveness, we can truly know
that growth and blessings will come - not on our schedule, but on Gods.
Not according to our priorities, but Gods. And not fearing the trouble
that comes by living faithfully, we may actually get ourselves into some
hot water. By God's grace, we endure and grow and mature, and his
Kingdom of grace, love and forgiveness grows in and through us.
Blessings and peace,