James 1:12 says: "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
The Bible says that we are blessed if we persevere under a trial. Perseverance implies - the trial lasted for a while! It wasn't an "instance" of trial (because no perseverance would be needed), it was a "season" of the trial.
Some seasons in life are easier, some are harder. Some seasons are short, and some are long. Some are REALLY long (some seasons of trial can be even decades, until the end of our life).
Jesus told the story of the fig tree, and He talked about seasons there:
Mark 11:12 "On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 11:13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 11:14 He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again!" And His disciples were listening."
This is a really odd situation where Jesus seems so out of His own character, it looks like He's getting angry at a tree.
But I think there is something really special to see in this. The thing which I learned that challenged me is at the end of verse 13:
"He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs."
What was wrong with the fig tree? It did what all fig trees do - it bore figs in season, and didn't produce figs when it wasn't the season. It was a very regular, healthy fig-tree. But the Lord was disappointed that it didn't produce figs ALL the time.
And this spoke to me: regardless of my external seasons of life, I should really only have ONE SEASON - the one in which I'm bearing fruit.
Paul used the exact phrase "In season and out of season":
2 Timothy 4:2 "..preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction."
We need the Lord's Word in season, and we need it out of season. We need to be ready in season and out of season, we need to repent in season and out of season. We need to rejoice in season and out of season.
EXTERNALLY, life is in seasons. But INTERNALLY, we should only have "One season" as a Christian:
The season where I'm bearing all the fruit of Galatians 5:22-23 - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
The season where I'm fighting sin and overcoming everyday - not perfect but fighting
The season where I'm happy in Jesus, and not downcast, in self-pity, complaining or discouraged or bitter
The season where I have a rest and peace in God no matter what the season is outwardly
I saw that and I see - I need to be walking with God and bearing fruit all the time, not just in the season of when "things settle down"' or "things get easier". The devil's deception is to make us believe we can follow the Lord "Later, when the season is right."
People have different seasons - some of have the season of job loss, some are in a season of a new job, some are in a season of things going their way, some are in a season if disappointment, some are in a season of little kids, some are in a season of singleness, some are in a season of a difficult marriage, some have a season of consistent failure in some area, some are in a season of success in some area. So many seasons!
But the word that comes to my mind for this, is what we see in James 1, and in the parable of the fig tree: PERSEVERANCE. Persevere in Jesus whatever the season is.
Not to be like the fig tree - just bearing fruit in season - when all the conditions are right. The fig tree needs - sunlight, plenty of rain, maybe not too hot, but just right... it's possible I can be like that myself: "Lord if you deliver me, I can rejoice again! Lord you are my hope - I can rejoice in you... when the trial is past."
That's not the type of hope or rejoicing the Lord is looking for.
The Bible says we're the aroma of Christ. I think we can agree - It's easy to have the aroma in the "season" of the church meeting time, or in "prosperity" time. Such kindness we can show, and such gentleness. But what about the season of "regular tough, problem-filled weekday"? Does my aroma change?
I want the aroma of Christ - and I want to persevere with it.
To ENDURE AND PERSEVERE - through the tough seasons - still bearing fruit, still letting off the Aroma of Jesus.