“If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!” (James 1:12, TPT)
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved (pass the test), he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (NAS)
We live under the tension of two conflicting realities. And often the life of trust is raised up from the hotbed of trial where earthly realities are purified into heavenly realities. The law of love keeps us in that crucible until Papa’s perfect work is accomplished.
David says in Psalm 27, “Yet I totally trust you to rescue me one more time, so I can see once again how good you are while I’m still alive! Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!”
It’s quite a leap to go from being a pearl to being an earthen vessel, a common clay jar. But here again, it’s simply metaphor.
“We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure [the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, vs.6] within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours.” (2 Cor. 4:7)
Although formed from the dust of the earth, Holy Spirit treasurized us with an overflowing brilliance of living water that gives us the power to model the life of Jesus. With such spiritual treasure within us, the vessel receives transformation to pull it off. “We consider living to mean that we are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity.”
Dying to the earthen vessel (self) brings me to life in him (being a pearl). To embrace his life, seeing the treasure that he is and making him mine gives me access to redemption’s treasure.
Philippians chapter three feels like a gauntlet thrown down with a challenge. “Will you run until you have finished the race?” it asks. And then we are shown how to respond to the call. Passion to go for what is ahead activates endurance for a journey that draws strength from Holy Spirit to cross the finish line.
“I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead.” [vs. 12-13]
There is a reward in running the adventure of faith; a crown of life (James 1:12, Rev. 2:10), a crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4), a crown of rejoicing (1 Thess. 2:19), and a crown of righteousness (1 Tim. 4:8). And that is only the beginning.
Philippians chapter one has an inescapable point its making. Verse 30 says, “For you have been called by him to endure the conflict in the same way I have endured it—for you know I’m not giving up.”
As a former “quitter,” I used to give up when opportunities I had been given demanded more than I had to give them. Several key opportunities were lost in the early days of my walk with the Lord for the lack of tenacity. Those points of suffering were designed to increase capacity. Oh, I could describe occasions of tears and screaming, “It’s too hard.” But I know I’m the only one who’s ever been there. Right?
Romans 5:3-4 speaks of the Greek work thlipsis. Trouble, distress, oppression, tribulation; they’re strong words for tough situations. But these things produce something that nothing else can; perseverance, proven character and hope.
Winston Churchill encouraged me on many circumstance. Never give up, never give up, never give up. Maybe those words will help someone today.