Good writing is a work of connected beauty. Words and thoughts are woven together that build word pictures that can be etched into hearts. No other piece of literature is comparable to the Bible in this regard. When we read we must look for these connections to understand the power of the Spirit’s work. The Bible is the literary masterpiece of all time. Every word is exactly placed to draw the hearts of God’s people to the life that is truly life.
It can be dangerous to make connections that are not obvious in the text. But it is equally dangerous to ignore the connections that are there. Like an exquisitely cut diamond, the Bible is a multi-faceted literary gem of the highest quality. The purest treasures are found by longing to have God’s Spirit open them to us as his word is read, mediated upon and embraced.
Here is just one example of the thousands of such connections. In James 1:2-3 we read:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
These words are rightly used to encourage when difficulties come. But remember that these words are part of a letter with a clear mission to bring hope to God’s people in distress. Don’t just select a fragment and think these few words are all that God has for trials. Look for the connection in the text to enhance and strengthen these words. Look eagerly for how these words in the opening of James connect to other portions in the book and to the whole of Scripture. Meditating on Scripture is not like the eastern, mystic practice of saying a mantra over and over again. Biblical mediation is a search for the rich provision of God’s Spirit in his word.
So we should not be surprised when just a few sentences later we again read about trials and steadfastness in verse 12:
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.
We are to count trials as joy because they lead us to the crown of life which God has promised. Steadfastness is not being stoic. Rather being steadfast anticipates the wonder of God’s promises. This is a true reason for joy.
Appreciate the Bible for the intricate, precious masterpiece that it is. It was crafted by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God and our good. It can and will bring healing to the deepest parts of your soul.