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I've Started, so I'll Finish

James 1:4
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIVUK)

Perseverance may sound dull, but without it nothing gets finished. There are enough bright sparks who can have a thousand ideas to start a hundred projects, but without the long-term view, nothing is achieved. That is part of the purpose of management, to see the end from the beginning and ensure that there is enough resource and effort applied at each stage. Military strategists know that if they go faster than their supply lines, they will not have enough ammunition or food to sustain the army: defeat or retreat are inevitable. In business, those most at risk of failure are those that grow too rapidly, borrowing without an adequate cash flow to cover their costs. At a personal level nothing will be completed without the ability to endure difficulties and persevere until the task is finished.

James is not an MBA tutor in business projections. He is Jesus' half-brother who had experienced the Lord's personal example – a lifestyle of persevering in the face of difficulties. James does not want to see Christians start well and then give up. He wants them to keep growing in Christ, all the way until they meet Him! Opposition (James 1:2-3) may tempt us to give up on Jesus; but on the other hand, it may spur us to trust Him for more - and that is what Jesus wants. As in every sport, the tougher and more sustained the training, the better the level of fitness to handle both the expected and unexpected challenges. The gym work-out strengthens muscles against the force of weights and resistance. But it cannot be done instantly (or the muscles would tear). However, over a period of time, the whole body grows stronger. Neither can Christian maturity happen overnight; it takes time and lots of opposition.

Although we would probably prefer to have a stress-free life, the Lord deliberately allows the trials. He tests us so that our faith in Jesus can grow stronger. The Andrae Crouch song puts it this way: "If I'd never had a problem, I wouldn't know that He could solve them!" Believers who have experienced Christ's power to deal with the impossible, will be less afraid of an uncertain future. They trust God's promise, when He says that: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So, do not panic when the next problem comes. The Lord is at work making You more like Him (Philippians 2:13). Insolvency and redundancy have their answer in what Christ is doing, as do restructuring and relocating ... all common in the business cycle. Professionals who face ethical dilemmas, workers who are accused unfairly and middle management scapegoats are all under immense pressure to give up, panic or (worse still) think up a clever short-term solution. But God's hand is in it all. He wants to bring out of you the best He is putting into you, because He loves you. Keep on trusting Him and see how your faith grows; and be aware that others are watching. May your reaction to problems stimulate the people around you to seek Jesus also.

Dear Lord. Please help me to persist when under pressure and to keep going when I feel like giving up - so that I may keep on referring to You as my wisdom and depending on You as my strength. As I win through in today's tests, please encourage me to risk more for You and Your Gospel, until I see you face to face. In Your Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams