One of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in the opening verses of James’ letter. It’s a long passage, but it has much to say to us. If you have the time, read it a couple of times.
James 1:2-8: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. [NKJV]
Did you get hung up on those opening words … count it all joy when you fall into various trials. It’s okay if you did, most of us do. Putting “joy” and “trials” in the same sentence seems totally opposite of what occurs normally in this life. “Trials” seem much more at home with words like “fear,” “sorrow,” “confusion,” than it does with “joy.”
But when you understand that as Christians, we are not to respond to things the way we did before we were saved, you understand that God has a purpose, and a promise, to facing trials with joy. James tells us that counting it all joy tests the depths of our faith – that’s the purpose. And the promise is that we will develop a patience that perfects us, making us complete so that we lack nothing.
One reminder though … don’t confuse count it all joy when you fall into various trials with thinking a trial is joyful. Trials are difficult, strenuous and sometimes downright ugly. They often leave scars and wounds that we carry for the rest of our lives. If we can learn to see beyond the actual trial, however, to what can be produced when we face it with the “joy (strength) of the LORD,” it is then that the trial becomes of great value to us. Otherwise, it’s just a trial and all that often produces is scars, wounds, and a load of bitterness.