When we had a larger yard, my wife, Julia, and our kids enjoyed gardening. They planted a variety of seeds, looking forward to harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, and other vegetables. Day after day, they would water, pull weeds, and put up fences to keep out the local rabbits. Although the rabbits took more than their share, we enjoyed fresh vegetables throughout the summer.
In gardening as in life, a good harvest requires perseverance. How does this add to our understanding of failure and success? When we face troubles and trials in life, the godly response is perseverance. Our goal is to endure steadfastly with faith, patience, and joy (vv. 2–3). When we persevere, we grow toward maturity and godly success. But if we don’t persevere, we’re not growing, which is considered failure.
The author of Hebrews, for example, scolded his readers for this very reason (Heb. 5:12–14). They should have been eating solid food (advanced truths) by then, but instead they were still only able to drink milk (basic truths). In the long run, the result of perseverance is maturity or wholeness (James 1:4). Other versions use the word “perfect,” and that is what we will be when God’s work of salvation is completed in us.
We can cooperate with this process or we can hinder or even oppose it. How? By responding with anything other than perseverance, such as complaining or compromising. If we don’t know how to persevere, God will give us this wisdom, and there’s no shame in asking (v. 5). When we do, we should ask with expectant faith, not doubting the character of God (vv. 6–8). This kind of doubt or instability is part of the immaturity we’re working to leave behind (see Eph. 4:14–15).
>> Today’s passage can have a significant impact on the way we pray. We often ask God to help us escape from troubles, but this might mean we’re asking to escape from opportunities for spiritual growth. How might we pray differently?