The X Factor
Apr 12, 2021 | 4 min read | Dave Patty
These days, those who live in Europe look across the waters to the UK and United States with a bit of envy. Vaccinations in these countries are picking up speed and the overall numbers affected by COVID-19 continue to drop. In many places, life seems to be returning to normal.
Not so on the continent of Europe. Here, only a few have gotten access to the limited supplies of vaccines, and some nations are reaching new records of fresh cases and daily deaths. None of us could have imagined a year ago that our region would still be in lockdown 12 months later.
James didn’t know about COVID-19 when he wrote his short epistle, yet his encouragement to “Count it all joy when you encounter various trials” covers our situation as well. The basis for that joy becomes more evident as he continues, because it seems that persevering in trials develops endurance. Endurance, he continues, is what makes a believer “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
In the music industry, there is a special quality called the X factor. If this precious factor is found in a person, they are likely to succeed—without it, they will most likely fail. The X factor multiplies talent and experience if it is present, and undermines talent and experience if it is lacking. It also makes a great title for a British TV show.
In modern terms, James is telling us that endurance is the “X factor.” When it is present, we are “perfect and complete.” When it is absent, we will likely fail. This special quality is only developed in one way—when we persevere, with joy, in whatever trial God allows to come our way.
Though I wish lockdown were behind us, I am grateful for all the ways I see endurance being developed in the Josiah Venture team. When our annual youth leaders conference in Slovakia had to go online for the second year in a row, our team sent individual care packages through the mail with special treats and a personal note to all 400 participants so that they could feel the physical touch of shepherding and love.
Emils in Latvia is finding that the guys he is discipling are difficult to gather online after a full day of school in the same environment. It takes three or four phone calls to each of them to make their Bible study happen, but Emils perseveres. “I think of how much effort Jesus went through to reach me. That is the energy that keeps me going after them,” he says.
In Ukraine the Exit team normally travels to high schools to lead prevention programs where the gospel is shared. Unable to be with the students in person, they have prepared an entire set of online lectures that are being used by schools to help the students deal with the challenges and stress they are facing—and hear the hope of Jesus.
All of us long for the day when “normal” ministry will return; however, the unique challenge to “keep going when the going gets tough” is developing X factor endurance in our team that will bring great blessing in the years to come.
Because of this, we are learning to count it all joy.
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