I saw recently that a local school district must spend more than $60,000 to relocate bats before they can build a new school. Many of the locals think it is a senseless waste of money but I disagree. In spite of their ugliness, bats are our friends. Did you know that one bat can eat 600 or more mosquitoes in only an hour? I hate mosquitoes (and their disease carrying tendencies) so much that it makes me like bats—even though they give fresh meaning to the word ugly. With the number of bats dropping precipitously due to disease, it makes good sense that bats would be protected as they are.
All of this makes me wonder if perhaps there aren’t other unlikeable things in life that we should actually appreciate more than we do. I am not especially fond of difficult times but the Bible strongly encourages a perspective of trials and tribulations that differs vastly from common thought.
When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. James 1:2-4 (Phillips)
We aren’t exactly certain if the author of this passage was James the half-brother of Jesus or not, but based on the modern perspectives of the Western Church, it is all too obvious that James didn’t have a clue about his subject matter. It only seems appropriate that we rewrite the passage to bring it more in line with modern times.
When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, let your hearts be filled with resentment because such difficulties are unwelcome intruders. Realise that anything that threatens your personal comfort and security can be declared to be the arch enemy of God. Being mature and complete, lacking in nothing has nothing to do with enduring through difficult times, and everything to do with developing a sense of personal entitlement. James 1:2-4 (Contemporary Western Version (CWV))
Perhaps my CWV interpretation leaves something to be desired, but if I were translating the text based on the evidence of how Christians are responding to our current times, I honestly don’t think it would be much different.
I get it. Really, I do. I understand that we are deeply concerned about the future. I see our religious freedoms unraveling. I am also well aware of the huge hole we have dug with our national debt. But is it possible that our ever-faithful Father is using “momentary light affliction” to produce within us “an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison”? (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Is it possible that the trials of this life are like bats? They are mysterious and creepy, yes, but in the end they may well be better friends than we realize. I, for one, would rather have an ugly bat fly by my head than the West Nile Virus incubating in my blood. Just a random post-election thought.