What makes a trial for a Christian? The answer is simple: a situation over time where faith in Christ must be called into play. Scriptures in James say that such things yield perseverence. If successfully endured, trials also yield reward from our Father.
We are in the midst of a trial and have seen this one before: waiting for a medical analysis as my wife was discovered to have a serious case of cancer again. Any person discovered with a significant disease knows that discovery is followed by a period of time. Scans, pathology analysis, and reports start a ball rolling that does not have immediate answers. So, the person with the disease waits. It is an uncomfortable time, because the disease marches on, information is lacking to own the situation, and sometimes symptoms continue while their source is not known. It may be the disease; it may not. So we pray, call the believers to pray, and ask God to intervene. Regardless, we still have to wait to see what happens, or what changes.
Trials of a different sort–those involving disasters of different types–have the same characteristics: solutions or closure involve time. It makes us thankful to know that trials are specifically addressed in the first chapter of James but also other places. All of this is helpful but knowing it is still not a substitute for enduring the trial. The Christian faith is real: it has feet in real situations–like this one or like others that believers endure. Last night I was reminded of the same lesson.
Last night marked about two weeks since Linda was sick, which led to a surprise hospital stay and a scan that showed cancer had reoccurred. Some of our thoughts last night were on the waiting period we were in. It is no walk in the park to keep your mind steady rather than racing, or keep things in an eternal perspective when contrary circumstances are staring you in the face. However, we also had a clear night, so we could observe the moon as we often do. I thought it might be a nice relaxing distraction from more serious matters at hand.
We started looking at the crater Pitatus on the south side of Mare Nubium, but were interrupted by a visit from a close friend. He had heard of our “trial” situation and brought some soup and some fellowship. I showed him the moon scene but we shut the equipment down for awhile to take time to enjoy his company.
After he left, we took a few minutes to talk then turned on the equipment again. I found the crater Pitatus again, but now the weak glimmer of lunar dawn had grown stronger. Details of the crater had become more obvious. I started to sketch while my wife relaxed and enjoyed the scene. After an hour and half, my sketch was done but lunar dawn had now revealed even more detail. Like a trial takes time to get through, lunar dawn takes time to light a crater sufficiently to see the detail that is needed for observation. There is no way to hurry it. Being anxious or worrying does not help. Starting to sketch some of the detail too early does not help. And, the sketch itself takes time to develop. If you hurry and do not take the time to look at the scene in a disciplined manner, the result is a bad replication of the scene on paper. As I finished, I remembered the scriptures in James 1 again. An extraction is shown on the sketch. God, of course, is right: there is something important developed in our souls as we endure something for a time–even if it is uncomfortable. Here is the sketch: