Blessed while Enduring Trials
12 Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
The final verse of this section on enduring external trials focuses on the two promised results to those that faithfully persevere. First, believers are deemed as blessed. This term is repeated multiple times by Jesus in the section known as the Beatitudes from His Sermon on the Mount, as found in Matthew 5:3-12. As Lea writes, “It describes an inner quality of joy resting in God and unaffected by external events.” As we look at those verses in Matthew 5:3-12, we can see that the circumstances that the people being called blessed may not be in the best of situations. For example, looking at verse 11, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” Being within this persecution, one would not consider themselves blessed, but in fact, the power to endure through the trial provided by God makes one blessed. God is constantly providing whatever His children need in any circumstance as they rely on Him, making them blessed indeed.
Secondly, at the end of enduring the trial, “he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” This term “crown,” did not refer to a headwear that royalty wore, but rather, a garland of leaves that were given to victors of ancient sporting competitions, such as a race. Enduring the trial doesn’t make someone better and elevated over another in a position of power. Instead, God gives this crown as a recognition of faithfulness. Like a marathon runner receiving a medal at the end of the grueling race of many miles, in the same manner, God will provide this spiritual gift in heaven to those who finish the race strong. The same imagery can be seen in Hebrews 12:1-2,
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
As believers, even when we are experiencing trials and tribulations, may we recognize that we are blessed as we endure these hardships, knowing that it will help us grow in spiritual maturity as we rely on our Father for our provision of strength to continue on, knowing that He will be there and never abandon us. May we strive for that goal, finishing our race, keeping our eyes on Jesus Christ, that when we are in heaven, receive a crown of life.
Isaac De Guzman