ArticleBible & Theology

The Promise for the Suffering Christian Worker

“Blessed” is more than a catchphrase—it’s a declaration for those faithfully enduring hardship in God’s mission.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12 ESV)

You are blessed.

We love to hear those words spoken to us. But we also use them to describe ourselves: We are so blessed. But what does it mean to be blessed?

James used this word as he returned to the idea of steadfastness that he introduced in 1:2. Instead of giving more imperatives, he offered encouragement in the form of a pronouncement. He declared that the one who remains steadfast under trial is one who is blessed.

Blessed is the same word Jesus used in the beatitudes. It means happy or fortunate. But this happiness is not tied to an emotional experience. Rather, it is a declaration. James said the one who remains steadfast (continues despite resistance and opposition) and perseveres through trials is declared happy, blessed, and fortunate.

This blessedness is tied to a reward called the crown of life. A crown was a prize given in sports to the victors. It was a laurel wreath placed on the head. It symbolized glory and honor. This crown is also mentioned in Revelation 2:10 in the context of suffering. The promise is that he who is faithful unto death—amid trial and tribulation—will be given this crown.

Global missions is filled with stories of suffering, pain, and endurance. In the line of duty to serve Jesus Christ, missionaries have suffered separation from loved ones, disease, dismemberment, persecution, betrayal, financial loss, physical and sexual assaults, war, and robbery at gunpoint. Some have suffered the death of those they love and with whom they have served. And some of them have died in action.

To those who have persevered and endured for the glory of Christ, we declare with James, “You are blessed.” But one day Jesus himself will declare these dear ones blessed and will give to them the crown of life. That is a promise God has given to those who love him. Oh, what a day that will be! Until then, we press on.

Prayer:

“Lord, thank you for this promise of the crown of life. Help me to endure, persevere, and continue to serve Jesus despite the suffering I may experience. Empower me through your Spirit to remain faithful. And please do the same for the missionaries our church supports.”


Prayer requests for missions:

  1. Pray for God to send additional workers to the ends of the earth to reap a spiritual harvest.
  2. Pray for specific missionaries your church supports who are experiencing great trials.
  3. Pray for the gospel to advance in the difficult places of the world.
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About the Author

Bobby Hile is ABWE’s director of long-term mobilization. Prior to that, he served for nine years as a senior pastor in Ohio and for almost 20 years with ABWE as a missionary in South Africa.

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