"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).
Have we ever considered the trials we pass through "pure joy"? Has there ever been a time when the end results of the faith-testing—perseverance, maturity, completeness, lacking nothing—have captivated us so thoroughly that we not only endured the trial but delighted in it?
If you are like me, you hear James's words in your head, but your internal auto-correct turns them into, "Don't kick and scream, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Grit your teeth and bear up, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." After all, what is perseverance if it isn't slogging through a difficulty all the way to its completion?
We need a new understanding of this profound passage. How, indeed, can we consider trials a joy?
Here is how James 1:2-4 is rendered in The Voice:
Don't run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.The joy James is talking about may not be our initial response to trials, but if we respond to them in faith (which blossoms under pressure) and learn to patiently endure, we will ultimately find joy in our hardships.
In my post entitled Surrendered I said that Jesus "was able to survive the experience of being surrendered [by Pilate] to the will of the crowd because he had already surrendered himself to the will of the Father." And so it is with us. If we are surrendered to the will of our loving Father, we can trust Him with anything that comes into our lives. Our faith and patience will grow as we trust him through our trials.
At the end of this long journey we will stand before the Lord; we'll be mature, complete, and wanting nothing. Knowing that each trial we endure along the way is preparing us for that great moment, we can rejoice. We are God's, and He using our trials for our good!
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