Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Those Who Persevere are Blessed
It’s the season of graduations. Students have made it through the rigors of years of classes, projects, assignments and tests, and they are receiving the reward for their labors. The reward is usually a diploma, handed to them on a stage by someone representing the school. The students are often wearing a funny academic hat, showing everyone that they are graduates.
In our devotional verse for today, James talks about the rigors of life. He calls them trials, but he doesn’t mean things that happen in a courtroom. He means things that try our patience, and especially things that try to take our focus away from Jesus and his love. These life tests aren’t graded by teachers. But they are observed by our family and friends. People watch whether we keep our cool and whether we keep our faith in God.
James says that people who hang in there, who persevere, are blessed. When we keep our connection with God and his Word, even though we suffer, we receive the blessings that God promises in his Word: forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. The love of God that comes through faith in Jesus keeps us from despair. It gives us strength to keep going even when the going gets tough.
Our reward is not a diploma. It’s a hat, but not a funny one! James calls it the crown of life, and he is using the picture of the crown that was placed on the head of the winners of races in his day. It’s the crown that Jesus has already won, and has already promised us through faith in him.
When we realize that the crown does not depend on our effort but on Jesus’ love, it makes the race of life much easier. Yes, there will be trials and tests, but God’s promises help us through. God gives us the faith, the strength to persevere, and the crown of eternal life in heaven.
(Christian Worship – A Lutheran Hymnal: 141)
Father, who the crown shall give,
Savior, by whose death we live,
Spirit, guide through all our days,
Three in One, your name we praise. Alleluia!