Do You Want to See the Sculpture Finished? Part 2

James 1:2-4

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”


Last week, we started a two-part devotional series focused on trials and affliction. This isn’t a fun topic to discuss, but it is a vital one for all Christians who are running the race towards eternity on earth. Scripture promises that we will face trials, but these promises in James show that the Lord is using hardship to make us more like His son. 

Steven Estes says, “Every sorrow we taste will one day be the best possible thing that could have happened. We will thank God endlessly in heaven for the trials he sent us here. This is not Disneyland—it is truth.”

This may be hard to believe. But take Joni’s story into account as you process the reality of hardship.

Joni Eareckson Tada has been a quadriplegic for almost 40 years. She broke her neck in a diving accident when she was only 16. But God has used her mightily ever since to share the gospel at Billy Graham crusades, to minister to other paralyzed people, to have a daily radio broadcast, and to paint with her mouth. 

Joni co-authored the book, When God Weeps. In that book she says, “If I love God, suffering does not ultimately matter. Christ in me is what matters. Pain does not cease to be pain, but I can ‘rejoice in suffering’ because the power of God in my life is greater than suffering’s vice-grip can ever be. I want to see the sculpture finished.

That is the namesake of this devotional series. “I want to see the sculpture finished.” What an admirable testament to the eternal perspective Joni has about present suffering and the ultimate glory of God

I heard Joni say one time that when she dies and goes to heaven; she wants to take her wheelchair with her, so that she can thank Jesus for it. Why? Because she says without it, she never would have known her Savior the way she does. Suffering brings intimacy with God. Joni’s life is proof.

So what should we do when we encounter a difficult, unexplainable tragedy or trial? James tells us to “Consider it all joy!” Like we learned last week, ‘consider’ means ‘to evaluate.’ We are given a greater perspective that is far more than our current situation when we ponder what God may be doing or accomplishing through our suffering and how He is making us more like Himself. 

Hear me say that this isn’t easy. It takes communion with God, dependence on the Holy Spirit, and a community around us in the midst of suffering as the Lord prepares us for Heaven. Remember, He is the sculptor, and we are the sculpture. The Lord is making us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Know this; God will not let you suffer alone. He promises to be with you! Here is one of my favorite stories of God’s presence with us:

Darlene Rose who was a missionary in New Guinea during WWII was captured by the Japanese along with her husband Russell, and they were both sent to separate concentration camps. One day she received word that her husband had died. She was in her early twenties at the time. She said it was one of those times when she felt the Lord had deserted her. But the Lord whispered to her in her heart Isaiah 43:3—“Did I not say to you that ‘when you pass through the waters I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned.” 

Darlene learned in those days that there is a “peace that cometh after sorrow, of hope surrendered, not of hope fulfilled. A peace that looketh not upon tomorrow, but calmly on a storm that is stilled.  A peace that lives not now in joy’s excesses, nor in the happy life of love secure, but in the unerring strength the heart possesses from conflicts won while learning to endure. It’s a peace that is sacrifice secluded, a life subdued from will and passion free. ‘Tis not the peace that over Eden brooded but that which triumphed over Gethsemane.’” God speaks to us through His Word and His people to provide His ultimate comfort and usher us into eternity. Amen!