“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
James is back with the same theme he has through 1:1-18: persevering under trial.  James adds a bit of a twist when he comes back to it here as he says we are “blessed” when we persevere.  I wish there was a way to be blessed without going through the trial, don’t you?  Thinking back to James 1:2, James says, “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds.” 
“Consider it joy”…we are blessed when we persevere…James is telling us something about our faithfulness during trials and testing: how we handle the testing of our faith during these times reveals something about us.  Again, the issue is never if we will face trials.  The issue is how we handle these trials.
So we are blessed when we “persevere under trial”.  The Greek word under the English word “persevere” means “to maintain a belief or course of action in the face of opposition.”[1]
Rascal Flatts recorded a song a few years ago called “Stand”.  It really captures this idea of “persevering”:
‘Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you’re made of
You might bend, till you break
‘Cause it’s all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you’ve had enough
You get mad; you get strong
Wipe your hands; shake it off
Then you stand.
“Stand” Words & Music by Blair Daly and Danny Orton
© 2006
Fortunately, James doesn’t stop with merely “leaning into the wind and pushing through it” but offers a light at the end of the tunnel.  He writes when we have “stood the test”, we “will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”  This is very similar language to Jesus’ words recorded in Revelation 2:10 “…Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
James is not trying to promote a “what’s in it for me” mentality.  This is not a self-centered approach to encouragement; it is an encouragement to keep our eyes on the prize.  The ultimate destination in life is not this life.  It is seeing our Savior face to face with as many of our friends, neighbors, and acquaintances as possible.  Unlike a typical race where there are winners and losers and only first place counts, all Christians are winners.  We cross the finish line of this life with our Savior’s open arms waiting for us and our crown of life in His hands. 
So…hang in there. 
Lean into the wind.
Keep your eyes on Him. 
Keep your mind in the Scriptures. 
Keep your knees well-worn in prayer. 
Remember…the testing is a blessing.

[1] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), ὑπομένει.