Looking for Trouble 

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 evil. 

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, 

Pastor Larry