James, believed to be a half-brother of Jesus, is a to-the-point kind of man. As a leader in the early church, he addressed persecution and his words of wisdom hold true for all generations. “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.” His letter goes on to give advice for remaining steadfast. James teaches us to be unshakeable, wholehearted and firm in our convictions by gaining a realistic perspective of trials, temptation, and the need of putting faith into action. Each lesson builds on the other. But is it all worth it? Remaining resolute and loyal to God is a blessing in itself. If we need more motivation, let’s ponder “the crown of life” that James says God promises to the ones who love Him. When the busy swirl of day-to-day obligations and pressures make it hard for us to contemplate the future that awaits us beyond this world’s struggles, we are wise to pause and re-think priorities. Do our thoughts and behavior reveal a trusting, growing, dependent and joyful love of God? Nothing needs to separate us from that love. Embrace Him in the good and in the bad times because the testing will come. I like the expression “she passed” as a way of saying that someone has died. This world is our test; at the end of it I sure want to pass—pass with flying colors right into the Presence of God who knew me even before there was a me to know.