James 1:2-4 (NRSV)
Consider it pure joy… when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
Resilience- spirit, strength, hardiness, flexibility, pliability (from the Microsoft Word Thesaurus)
Here in West Virginia, we’ve enjoyed an unusually mild winter, with warmer temperatures and very little snow. Trees are already budding, daffodils are blooming, new shoots are sprouting up in gardens, and grass is greening. But now we have been surprised by a windy cold front. Frost has covered the ground, and the newly sprouting plants and blooming trees are suffering. The strong wind has even broken branches and uprooted trees.
Nature speaks to us of life, doesn’t it? We can be enjoying days of peace and serenity, success and smooth-sailing, joy and celebration. Life is good. And then suddenly, a cold front blows into our lives, wounding and even uprooting our plans and dreams.
But nature also provides survival lessons. Plants are best able to endure harsh weather by being resilient. Plants are flexible, swaying with the wind. They are spirited, turning to face the sunshine. They are pliable, drooping with the rain but rising again after the storm has passed. Plants are hardy, shedding leaves and blooms in order to survive, but sprouting and growing again in order to thrive.
Our Lenten focus for today is resilience. These verses from James not only encourage us to be resilient when we face hardships; we are to “consider it pure joy!” Why? Resilience makes us better equipped to weather difficult times. The difficult times then strengthen our endurance. And in the end, we will be “mature and complete, lacking nothing.”
How might we be resilient? We grow more flexible as we move with the Spirit through the trials that blow into our lives. We turn our faces to the warmth of God’s love when we are feeling the chill of challenges. We become pliable by bowing humbly before God when the rains of troubles fall. We rise again by leaning on God’s help and healing. We become hardier as we learn to embrace and grow- or surrender and release- as needed, over and over through the seasons of our lives.
Our symbol for today is a seed or plant, to remind us of the resilience plants have in order to bloom and grow. May we find joy in the testing of our faith. In every trail, let’s ask the Spirit to increase our resilience and build our endurance, as we grow in maturity and completeness.
Move within me. Make my body and soul resilient in all of the trials that come my way. Help me to find joy in every challenge, trusting that you will work to make me mature and complete in Christ. Amen.