Trust the Process
Finding joy in the journey.
It took eleven years to complete the house renovations that could have been finished in a year. During the process there were suffocating financial challenges, city declarations condemning the home, multiple floods, and endless days of debilitating work. At one point in the project, I attempted to persuade my wife to sell and move. But she would not be persuaded to leave the place that had become her home.
Year after year we persevered. Enduring the mountains of dust, dirt, and construction debris while sleeping on the floor, sometimes without A/C in the sweltering D.C. summer. I learned a great deal a during those years. But if I’m honest, after the work was complete and my Saturdays and evening were free, I missed some of the benefits of the long process.
James says, “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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
We are fundamentally oriented towards achieving our goals within a short span of time. We do not find the process satisfying. Who enjoys long lines at the grocery store or long traffic delays when you are already late? Amazon Prime promises next-day delivery. We grow impatient waiting for our computers to perform after typing a simple command. Yet, living a life of instant gratification is not something God promises.
Make no mistake. God is interested in seeing the objective accomplished. Yet, the Scriptures remind us that the process in which he is sovereign over and guides us through is extremely important. Think about those in redemptive history that experienced the weight of a long wait.
Perhaps the most well-known example is Job.
James 5:11 says, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
Job was a man that went through a great deal of hardship. His battle with family losses and physical suffering was beyond what most could bear. Yet, as James notes, he experienced God’s kindness and compassion throughout all the difficulties.
Another example of one who spent a long time waiting on God and was so often disappointed was Joseph. Yes, in time he was made second in command of all of Egypt, but he exercised a great deal of perseverance through a long process. There are many benefits to waiting on God when confronted with various challenges.
What are those benefits? James refers to the benefit of maturity. He is reminding us that we need to grow and develop in both our thinking and behavior. An important part of life is to grow in our walk with the Lord. I know that my ways of thinking about life and responding to challenging circumstances are often not in concert with that of my Lord. I struggle with my sin. The gospel dictates how we are to think and live. My view of others and how they are to be treated needs to be consistent with God’s love for me. When we enter difficult and challenging circumstances it is helpful to know that there is a purpose. For both Job and Joseph, the challenging process confronted them with the presence of God. They learned about his nature, such as his compassion and mercy.
So, when I find myself in a challenging process I turn to prayer. I thank my Lord that he is showing me more about my life and sin and his grace and mercy. I ask that he would give me the strength to endure and, if necessary, the ability to suffer well. I pray that his will be done and, in the end, by his grace, he would be exalted and glorified.
Chuck Garriott is the founder and Executive Director of Ministry to State.