Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
James 1:1-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
1 James, a servant[a] of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
Faith and Wisdom
2 My brothers and sisters,[b] whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6 But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7, 8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Poverty and Riches
9 Let the believer[c] who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10 and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.
Trial and Temptation
12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord[d] has promised to those who love him.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
I appreciate the way The Message paraphrases the first part of today’s reading: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
It’s hard to think of tests and challenges coming at us from all sides as a “gift,” isn’t it? Just about everyone during this pandemic and all the other burdensome things we face feels tested and challenged in ways that we have never experienced before. Those challenges we share have even affected the content of our dreams. The cover story of the current issue of Scientific American magazine is about “COVID Dreams.” Here is the beginning of that article:
For many of us, living in a COVID-19 world feels as if we have been thrown into an alternative reality. We live day and night inside the same walls. We fear touching groceries that arrive at our doorstep. If we venture into town we wear masks, and we get anxious if we pass someone who is not. We have trouble discerning faces. It’s like living in a dream.
COVID-19 has altered our dream worlds, too: how much we dream, how many of our dreams we remember and the nature of our dreams themselves. Early this year, when stay-at-home directives were put in place widely, society quite unexpectedly experienced what I am calling a dream surge: a global increase in the reporting of vivid, bizarre dreams, many of which are concerned with coronavirus and social distancing. [https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-covid-19-pandemic-is-changing-our-dreams/]
James challenges us to stay with the experiences and face them with faith, trusting in God and continuing to be who God calls us to be. He says that as we do that, we will mature and be well-developed in our faith.
How are you doing during this time? In what ways have you matured? What have you learned that is valuable? In what ways do you feel stronger?
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster