I pulled on a sweatshirt last night for the first time in months. I guess it’s goodbye summer… and I’m OK with that.
When we think of summer, most of us picture blissful weeks of warmth and perfection, the sweet smell of flowers and freshly cut lawns. Somehow all those visions overlook one thing: August – a.k.a. thirty days of mind-paralyzing heat and humidity.
The usual soaring temperatures last month reminded me of one of my Dad’s unusual quirks: the man could withstand the heat of summer like a superhero. He was “that guy” you’d see playing tennis on the hottest day of the year. High noon, merciless sun, shimmering heat waves radiating over the surface of the court. He never took a break or even a sip of water. The poor souls who agreed to play with him (me, on occasion) had no chance. Our only objective became to leave the court without need of a stretcher. As we melted into a pool of sweltering misery, Dad somehow seemed to gain energy and joy in the oppressive conditions.
In Scripture we can find many individuals who performed well in the “heat.” Daniel faced the heat of the lion’s den. Shadrach & friends faced the literal heat of the fiery furnace. (Sunday school has so familiarized us with those stories that sometimes we’re a bit desensitized to how scary those situations really were!) Job remained faithful in the heat of losing nearly everything. Jesus, of course, didn’t waver in the intense heat of false accusations, torture and crucifixion.
But there are also individuals in the Bible who quickly folded as the temperature increased. Samson gave away the secret of his strength. Jonah ran away when God called him. Peter denied the Lord 3x… etc.
What category are we in? James had an unusual take on facing the heat. He said, “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” (James 1:2)
Joy? Why on earth should we be joyful about tough times? Would anyone be happy if it was 127 degrees outside?
Well, James isn’t saying we need to be happy about our difficulties, or that we should seek tough situations in order to raise our spirits. He’s saying we shouldn’t let the heat steal our joy in the Lord, or send us into despair when there’s a blip in our comfortable situations.
We may not welcome difficulties, but we can welcome the God who allowed them, and be open to the transforming work He’s doing in us.
James 1:3 – “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”
– Ron Reid
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