My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.
James 1:2-4 (NET)
Over the past several months I have come to truly appreciate this verse. To say that my faith has been tested during this time seems somewhat of an understatement so allow me to elaborate on exactly what that means to me at the moment.
My faith in people has been shaken.
My faith in the institution of church has worn thin.
My faith in my own abilities has been demolished.
My faith in good’s existence in this world has been rattled.
In the midst of all this something beautiful happened. Something frustrating and painful and beautiful. As my security was stripped away and I found myself exposed, alone, and vulnerable, I discovered how much of my worth and identity I had placed in that security. I was so angry, really just consumed with hurt and anger and bitterness and I started saying things like, “I don’t deserve this!” and “Don’t they know how much I’ve done!” Soon my anger revealed my self-righteousness.
The thing is, despite my self-righteous heart and desire for self-salvation from this hole of depression I was quickly sinking into, I found myself completely and utterly powerless. Powerless to save myself and powerless to save to the people that I love. Here in this powerlessness is when I became devastatingly aware that I had reached the rock bottom of my self. The enormity of my pride became very evident to me as well as its uselessness, and slowly but surely I began to experience the painful liberation of God bending my will to His.
I have become embarrassingly cognizant of the worthlessness of my own efforts, the filth of people’s praise, and how addicted I am to both of those things. I work and strive under the guise of service while my selfishness pushes the accelerator on my motivation. I am the chief of sinners, the master of manipulation, the essence of hypocrisy, and I am ashamed of the casualties left behind in my pursuit for self-satisfaction.
As is true to His nature, I am embraced by the Saver if sinners, the Master of redemption, the Essence of authenticity, and He is proud of me. He is for me. He has faith in me when I so often lack it. I am deficient and He satisfies. I am weary and He carries me on. I am a failure and He perfects me. I am broken and He completes me. His faithfulness is not limited by my expectation and His goodness is not limited by my belief.
See, because it’s not about me. It’s never been about me. My ability, my rags I’ve esteemed to be riches, are overwhelmed and outdone by the unfathomable value of His glory. A glory that He pours out onto me with every breath I breathe before I can even form the words to ask for it.
And so I endure. Not simply to survive the trial but to find joy in journey. As John the Baptist said so impeccably, “He must become greater; I must become less.” May the greatness of His grace sabotage my self-salvation plans and may there be joy demolition of my pride.