“Oh boy,… a monkey wrench!”
How do you hear that inflected in your mind? Does it sound like Eeyore, or maybe Garfield? “Oh boy,… a monkey wrench!” “Rats!” Charlie Brown might add.
Can you imagine it shouted in the upbeat by a bounding, tail-wagging Scooby-Doo? “Oh boy!!! — A monkey wrench!!!” “Yippee!” Well, brace yourself. that’s exactly what James is saying we should do! “Consider it pure joy,” he says, “…whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).
Why? Well… James continues, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (v. 3)
Pearls are formed when an irritant of some sort gets inside an oyster. The oyster defends itself by secreting “nacre,” a fluid which coats the foreign object in multiple layers, thereby creating a pearl! We need to be like that with our irritants… our “monkey wrenches”… valuing the virtue more than vilifying the vexation. (Pretty good, hey?)
James goes on… “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (v.4). The end goal of these difficulties is our completeness and contentedness in Christ.
It is indeed a learning process. Paul writes of how he too had to learn this.
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11-13)
There was a time when Paul had not learned perseverance. But there came the time when he did. He could even say, “Copy me.” He wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9). So there is hope for you and I too!
After that first ‘positive’ monkey wrench while on his path to persecute (see yesterday’s blog), Paul experienced many more while on the road to righteousness. The Lord revealed to Ananias, “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16). Part of Paul’s calling, and ours as believers in Christ, is to deal with monkey wrenches in a godly, character-building manner.
What is irritating you today? Did something from the outside get inside you… ‘under your skin?’ Can you see it as a pearl-making opportunity? Can you count it all joy? Can you shout with a smile, “Oh boy! A monkey wrench!” — ?