James tells us to, “count it all joy when you fall into various trails” (James 1:2 NKJV). What does that mean? Why would anyone suffer through pain, grief, or hardship and “count it all joy”?
Obviously, James is writing to believers. Would you ever say something like this to anyone who isn’t a follower of Jesus?
While hardships are bound to come upon every person; for a believer, God uses adversities as one tool to grow us in dependence on, and intimacy with, Him. For that purpose, it can be for a believer’s good if he goes through times of difficulties, hurts, or struggles. The Lord doesn’t intend for these times to break us down, but to build us up; growing us more in Christlikeness and showing us more of Himself.
Ideally, we would turn to the Lord readily whenever we face turmoil. Although, frankly, we usually don’t. When 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 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 makes it clear that we should expect trials of various kinds.
Going through trials implies hurt and hardships. Even so, “we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3).
While all undergo times of sufferings, there is a difference between how a believer faces trials of life and how someone without Christ faces trials in life. Believers never transverse dark times alone. God promises that He will always be with us, and it’s impossible for God to lie. What is more, when we go through trials, we can “count it all 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.
It’s natural to resent and resist trying times. However, rather than get caught up in resentment, a Christian ought instead to get caught up in praying for patience, strength, wisdom, and perseverance to endure the trial.
“Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:3)
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. Instead of becoming consumed by adverse circumstances, we should surrender all of life’s “circumstances” over to the Lord and allow ourselves to become more consumed in Him.
The Lord desires to work in your life to foster more fullness in your fellowship, comfort, and peace with Him. However, that also means that you must, at times, undergo difficult trails because in life’s difficulties, you can find a dependence and trust in the Lord that is so much more magnified than in times of ease.
“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4)
We should be satisfied, but never complacent with where we are in our fellowship in Christ. We are meant to mature in spiritual growth. In our personal walk with Christ, where we are today shouldn’t be where we will be next year.
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 you are “not lacking anything.” God wants to enhance Christlike characteristics in you, and He may use trials and sufferings for that purpose. Still you can count it all joy, knowing, “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 5:10).