"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:3-5 NIV)
It has been 36 days since my mom died. It occurred tome yesterday that new parents often reveal their baby's age in number of days, then weeks, then months and, ultimately, years. The experience is still new, and we can't even imagine anything beyond this day. While having a new baby is joyous (except for lack of sleep!) the adjustment still initially "happens" one day at a time.
I guess adjusting to life without a loved one has to move that way too. Day by day by day, then weeks by week, month by month. That's how perseverance is learned -- by day, by week, by month, by years. But I don't want to persevere in this! I want my mom back! I don't want to think I'll pick up the phone to dish about something I heard on the news and relish her lively, quick-witted commentary, or tell her about something exciting - like a grandchild's raise or how we finished putting in our vegetable garden, or a host of other things! I won't ever be able to share any momentous occassions or event with her again!
Don't get me wrong! We have dear friends who lost their child recently. I have no doubt that loss is so much more painful and unbelivelably hard to bear and endure! I understand now not only their inconsolable sense of loss - but I grasp in a whole new way, at a whole new level of my being how much courage, strength, and yes, perseverance, it takes for them to just get out of bed each day. I get it and I'm grateful that perseverance isn't finishing its work in me in that way.
I'm still at the "day" stage of my perseverance. I never really understood what these verses meant, "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." How in the world could the death of my mom - or struggles, challenges, trials of other kinds - help me to be complete? I still feel very incomplete!
I think the completness may refer to being more like Christ. To love more, to be stronger for others who can't be strong on their own, to pray harder, to live each day on purpose. It doesn't mean it will all be okay. It means we will survive. How we end up on the "other side" will be the result of our perseverance. And we only learn to persevere through hardship.
I'm not considering "it" pure joy yet. But I understand I have no choice but to go on. I'm not happy about it, but we are compelled to be "joyful." Joy is not the same as happiness. Joy is possible because I know Mom is in heaven and that I will join her there one day. Joy is possible because of Christ who won Mom and me - and everyone who believes - a place in heaven by His death.
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" (Romans 5:3-5 NIV).
Blessings on your journey,