I don’t like hardship, pain, or grief. Few people do. But in the book of James, he tells us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). What does that mean? Why would anyone suffer through hurt or endure hardship and count those as “pure joy”?
Obviously, James isn’t writing to people who aren’t believers. Would you ever say something like this to anyone who isn’t a follower of Jesus?
James’ words are even hard to hear as a Christian. But James understands that God desires for His children to grow more into Christlikeness. For that purpose, it can be for a believer’s good if he goes through times of difficulties, hurts, or struggles.
Hardships are bound to come upon every person anyway. Yet, for a believer, God uses adversities as one tool to grow us in our trust and intimacy with Him. To be clear, the Lord isn’t using trials to break us down, but to build us up. Sometimes, He may use hardships for teaching us to become more and more dependent on Him.
That should be our desire also – as difficulties come upon us, for us to turn those over to the Lord to handle. In doing that, we can find a dependence and trust in the Lord that is usually ignored during times of ease.
Ideally, we will turn to the Lord readily whenever we face turmoil. Although, frankly, we usually don’t. If we don’t, the Lord may allow us to become so weighted down with pressures in life that we must yield our troubles to Him. God will never overload us, but He will allow us to become heavily loaded down. Not because He likes to see us suffer, but because He wants us to surrender all things to Him.
There are some who like to teach that, as a Christian we’ll forego all of life’s hurts. That’s not true. It’s not what the Bible teaches. James didn’t say, “if” you face trials. He says we will face trials of many kinds.
What’s more, going through trials implies suffering. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says straight up that we will suffer. “We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3).
However, there is a difference between how a believer faces trials of life and how someone without Christ faces trials in life.
Believers will never transverse dark times alone. God promises that He will always be with us, and it is impossible for God to lie. What is more, when we go through trials of all kinds, we can have “pure joy” in the midst of those trials. Wow!
We have the God of all comfort who is our source of strength and carries us through. And, we have His promise that He works in all things for the good of those who love Him.
In our flesh, we resist or resent trials and suffering. However, as a Christian, our first actions ought instead to be praying for patience, strength, wisdom, and perseverance to endure the trial.
“Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:3).
In the weakness of our flesh, it’s easy to focus on circumstances and become consumed by the adversity around us. But God wants us to look past those trials by focusing on Him. Through the power of His Spirit, instead of becoming consumed by the circumstances, God waits to use those circumstances as an opportunity for us and to willingly allow ourselves to become more consumed in Him. During trials, God develops in us spiritual growth as we persevere through His power.
The Lord desires to work in your life to foster more fullness in fellowship, comfort, and peace with Him. But, to do that will mean that you must sometimes undergo difficult times. God will work in those times to bring you more into completeness.
“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).
We should be satisfied, but never become complacent with where we are in our fellowship in Christ. We are in a growing process that continues throughout our lifetime. We should strive to grow in our fellowship with Jesus continually, so that where we are today shouldn’t be where we will be next year. We are to mature in our spiritual growth.
There will certainly be periods when it seems like we are stagnant in our walk with the Lord. And, there will be times when it seems we “taking one step forward and two steps back.” That’s okay as long as our heart remains faithful to pursue Him more.
Strive for completeness. Perseverance must finish its work so that we are “not lacking anything.” God wants to enhance Christlike characteristics in us, and He may use trials and sufferings for that purpose.
Although, we have this confidence, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5: 9).
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