Burdens . . . Bad?Burdens . . . Bad?
Count it all joy, my brothers—James 1:2-4
This age regards the burdens of struggle/hardship/pain as simply bad, to be avoided at all cost—the loss of a job, loss of a career, loss of financial stability, loss of an image, loss of a marriage. So we medicate, distract, deny—anything to make them go away. And, when we just can’t, we direct our frustration toward God: “Where are you?” “How could you allow this?”
But . . . what if . . . these burdens are actually good things? Constructive things? What if they have a purpose? What if they’re not random things, but parts of a program to make us more mature, more focused, more rugged, more fruitful? Jesus taught that God prunes “every branch that does bear fruit,” so that “it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). And, indeed, most men will concede that—while they’ve certainly not enjoyed the struggle/hardship/pain of the past—they do like the people they’ve become as a result. They prefer their post-burden selves to the men they were before.
Maybe we’ve got this upside down. Maybe we need to think differently about struggle/hardship/pain? Maybe the words of James aren’t so crazy?
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Okay, so what do we do?
Are you going through something tough, right now? If not, enjoy this time. If you are, recognize the pain. Talk about it with trusted friends. But don’t try to escape it. Let it do its work. And, trust that it will not last forever. Trust that, after a little while, it’ll go away and you’ll emerge a better version of you.