The Book of James
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
Trials and Temptations
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
James, the half brother of Jesus, is writing to his Jewish brothers and sisters who have been scattered due to persecution. This is not the apostle James, who was martyred in 45 AD. As persecution is happening to the early Christians, James wants to encourage them so they will not lose faith. As he discusses trial and temptations, there are several principles that are useful for us. You should memorizes verses 2-4. This verse has come in handy for me countless times.
1. "Consider it joy when you face trials!" Huh? We will see why soon! "Consider" is a mental word related to mindset, or how you think about something, or frame it's meaning.
2. "Whenever you face various kinds of trials." It is not if we will have trials, but when. As a Christian you will face trials, that is a given. And they will be of various kinds. Usually trials hit us in a weak spot, where there is a chink in our armor. It wouldn't be a trial or temptation if it wasn't hard to deal with.
3. "The testing of your faith will produce perseverance." When you have trials your faith is tested? Why? Because trials tempt us to think God isn't doing good for us, or worse yet He doesn't really care about us. But faith is trusting that God will eventually use the trial for something positive in our life and in our character.
4. "The purpose of our trials is that we would be mature and complete lacking in nothing!" Trials mature us, because when we are immature we can't handle them. We quickly fold when things don't go our way. It is too much for us. But when we are mature in Christ, we can know that though this is hard it will make us stronger. It will actually strengthen my faith, because I will have to trust in God when things aren't going well. It is easy to have faith in God when things are going well, but much harder to trust God when we are in the trenches of a trial.
So what are you going through today? Can you consider it a "joy" somehow? Only if you can take the time to consider the maturity and completeness it is working in you. I don't mean to diminish trials because some of you have gone through tremendous trials that are incredibly difficult. It can be cliche in times of deep grief to tell someone glibly, "oh don't worry God is just making you a stronger Christian!" While this may be true, we need to allow each person to understand this truth in God's timing. I hope this helps you to see that it is possible to have joy in the midst of trials. Seems impossible but it is Jesus' joy in us. As the verse goes, "the joy of The Lord is my strength!