Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance…so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything….Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:2-4,12)
Dear Praying Friends,
We’re continuing our class on Christ-likeness—The Fruit of the Holy Spirit. When I think about the Scriptures above, I remember that many of you are facing tests, trials, tribulations, and troubles right now. I ask the Lord to help you with these challenges, dangers, and difficulties. God our Father uses them to make us better, more like Christ, while Satan tempts us to get bitter against our Lord and then stumble into sin.
The verses above remind me of Edward Payson (1783-1827) an American Congregational pastor. The Lord used the death of Payson’s younger brother to wake Edward up to God, to shake his self-reliance, and to make him call on Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of sinners, and to receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation. God made Payson a new person in Jesus, but his emotions were still very unstable. Today he might have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder: extreme happy times followed by deep depression. Payson suffered unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. In addition, he suffered from migraines, insomnia, paralysis in his arm, and he nearly died from tuberculosis. Two of his children died in infancy.
Yet, by God’s love, mercy, and grace, Payson was hard pressed, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; suffering, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.1 He was known as “Praying Payson” and Edward hung on to Christ, knowing that Jesus hung on to him. He knew we don’t get the fullest joy in this life, but only with Christ in Paradise. A month before his death, Payson dictated a letter to his sister telling of his hungering and thirsting for Jesus, urging her to keep on with Christ so they could meet again in Heaven.
James’ Scripture and Edward Payson remind me of Fanny Crosby’s hymn, “Some Day the Silver Cord Will Break.” The last stanza and chorus go like this:
Some day, till then I’ll watch and wait, My lamp all trimmed and burning bright, That when my Savior I will greet, My faith will then be changed to sight. And I shall see Him face to face, And tell the story, saved by grace.
Edward’s daughter, Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, served Christ as an author, well known for her hymn “More Love to Thee, O Christ” and her novel Stepping Heavenward, which is still available and popular.
Do you have physical, mental, emotional, spiritual troubles? If not, you probably will in the future. The Lord doesn’t spare us from these trials. But Christ does help us look past our difficulties to the joy that lies ahead for Jesus’ followers and to persevere in following Him. Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us when Christ returns.2 Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.3
Thank you again for the privilege of serving with you and for helping me to rejoice in Christ over the years! Sections from this class also get used at Jester 3 Prison and in pastoral counseling.
Your very grateful brother in Christ, Bob
From the blog
Blogs posted since our February 2019 update
- The Lord is Kind (Part 1)
- The Lord is Kind (Part 2)
- Answering a Question: Why Is Love the Greatest?
- Hope in Jesus Christ
Notes: 1 2 Cor 4:7-9. 2 Rom 8:18. 3 Rev 22:20.