Becoming Mature and Complete
by Elizabeth Turnage, Guest Writer
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, NIV
On the first day of August, I had jotted a note in my prayer journal under our son’s name: “humility and gratitude.” It’s not that he isn’t generally a humble and grateful twenty-two-year-old—but really, what twenty-two-year-old couldn’t stand to grow in this area? Or what fifty-two-year-old couldn’t grow a little more, for that matter?
This practice was nothing new; it’s what I do. I anticipate or observe character issues in my children, and I begin asking God to work on it. But when our son was diagnosed with a brain tumor two days later, I wanted to take my prayer back. I prayed something like this:
“In the first place, God, I didn’t want him to have to suffer to gain this humility and gratitude. In the second place, God, I didn’t want to have to suffer in order for my son to grow more mature. In the third place, I didn’t really mean that prayer.”
But God firmly showed me that there were no “take-backs” on this prayer; furthermore, perhaps there were some areas of my character that could benefit from such a trial. God wasn’t content to let me remain unchanged. Instead, he was committed to my sanctification.
Sanctification is a big theological word that refers to the process by which God makes his children more like their Savior Jesus: more holy, more mature, more complete. Of the many lessons Scripture teaches about sanctification, two lessons in particular apply here:
God saves us with the purpose of making us more like his Son.
Whether we like it or not, God often uses suffering to help us grow and mature.
I am a feeble and sinful parent, but I still scribbled a prayer in my journal because I wanted our son to be mature and complete, lacking nothing. God did not scribble when he engraved my name into his hand. He nailed his Son to the cross and wrote my name with Jesus’ blood. Such are the lengths to which our faithful Father has gone to make us, His precious children, mature and complete, lacking nothing.
Heavenly and faithful Father, we praise You for being the best Father. Please use this season of affliction in our lives to grow proven character in us. May this proven character, in turn, help us to hope as we wait, and may this hope not be disappointed, but find its fulfillment as we become more like You.
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©2019 Elizabeth Reynolds Turnage. Please do not reprint without permission from the author.
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Elizabeth Turnage, writer, story coach, teacher, and the founder of Living Story ministries (www.elizabethturnage.com). She is passionate about helping people learn, live, and love in God’s story of grace. A blogger and the author of three Bible studies published by P&R Publishing, she is a popular conference and retreat speaker. Elizabeth is married to an orthopedic surgeon, Kip Turnage, and they have four adult children, plus three added by marriage. They are also the devoted “parents” of their personal therapy dog, Rosie.
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