James 1:2 My brothers and sisters,[b] whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; Dear Members and Friends,I often zip around on the web site named “Bible Gateway” when I am writing our sermons or preparing to teach. They always have a verse of the day. This one jumped off the page and was begging to be the basis of a “Sanitizer.” The passage expresses not how we usually think. Let’s paraphrase how we usually think. “Dear brothers and sisters, when trials come along it sets us back and pushes us down. Often we are just happily moving along through our lives, minding our own business when some trial or obstacle gets in the way. When that happens, it means sadness and might lead to failure or setback.” Isn’t that what we worry about? But God’s Word has a different take on things. What might we experience when trouble comes our way? Joy? That’s what James says. Why joy? Because as we work through our challenges (note we have changed “trials” into ”challenges”) we find that living by faith leads us to the great resource of endurance. Now THERE is something we need going into the third year of the pandemic! Endurance! Can anything good come out of this? Well, yes. God can make us better. The promise of God is that he will get us through and we will be better than we were when we started. That is the medicine we need. Here is how the Good News Translation words this passage of the Bible: James1:2 “My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, 3 for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure.” Faith in Jesus gets us through the trials and the success of getting through augments our ability to endure. When we face the sadness and persistence of the pandemic, it is reassuring that God is wanting to make us better and stronger. The promise of the gospel is this: “in Jesus Christ we have a future.” That future is glorious and James hints that we can even be joyful in the time of trial. Don’t forget that you do not face your challenges alone. Jesus carries you and me. It doesn’t depend on us, but on Jesus who is completely reliable. Don’t ever forget that Jesus transformed the terrible image of the cross of death into the brilliant shine of life. If God can do that with the cross, just imagine what he is doing with your trials and mine! James promises us that this process will make us mature and lacking in nothing. That sure sounds good! The words of the hymn are coming to mind, “Have we trials and temptations?Is there trouble anywhere?We should never be discouragedTake it to the Lord in prayer” I’m sure you recognize those words from “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” For the person following Jesus (you), trials will make us better. Let us face our challenges in faith! “Please pray with me. “ Gracious God our Father, you know our every weakness. When trouble comes our way, we tremble and cower. We forget that you make us more than conquerors through Jesus. We forget that with every step we take and every moment we go on you are with us. Forgive our timid ways. Strengthen us to the core. Help us to live through life challenges and trials and come out stronger and more able than ever to endure.. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.