Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, James 1:2 ESV
Last week we talked about how our identity, who we are, should first be a slave (bond servant) of God. Jesus should be our number one priority!
Before we begin reading todays Scriptures, I want us to take a moment to think about the difference between trials and temptations. A trial may be thought of as something that breaks or disrupts a pattern of peace, contentment, comfort, happiness, etc. God uses these trials or tests throughout our lives to help us grow in our faith. God will place trials in our lives!
However, as we will study later this month in James 1:9-19, we can see God will never tempt us. Trials can be thought of as coming from the outside, while temptations arise from our fleshly, evil desires.
Let’s turn now to James 1:2-8.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:2-8 ESV
What do these verses tell us? In verse two James does not say if but, when we face trials. There is no doubt we will face trials in our lives. He then tells us what we should do when they come up. He starts out by saying Count it pure joy…
Count is a financial term, meant “to evaluate,” so James is instructing us to evaluate how we look at the trials we face. James is reminding us, God has a purpose for each of the trials we face in our lives. This purpose can only be accomplished when we respond to them in the correct way. This does not mean we can have no other response, we are not commanded here to never be saddened about the trials we face. Rather the emphasis is on our heart condition ultimately being one of genuine rejoicing. Jewish tradition repeatedly stressed the virtue of enduring testings and occasionally stressed joy in them due to faith in God’s sovereignty.
When we have trials in our lives, they can test our faith and the results often lead to growth and steadfastness in our faith! We can think about steadfastness as our ability to endure in spite of opposition we are facing. We can learn to persevere through trials. We hold close to Jesus, even when something catastrophic is happening or we don’t understand the why’s. It is often when we are in the midst of trials that we grow in ways we never otherwise would.
Trials can be used by God to help us come closer to Him or to His plan for us. In verse five James tells us what we should do if we lack wisdom, if we don’t know what to do because of a trial. James is encouraging us to pray, ask God what to do, continue to believe in Jesus, and we will continue to grow closer to Him and His Son though we may be kicking and screaming along the way at times.
Think about some of the trials you have faced in your life. How has God used these trials to stretch and grow you? How has your faith changed as a result? There are many different ways we may grow. When encounter trials we need to remember God may be stretching and growing us in our faith. We must always hold on to Jesus!
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©Christopher Taylor 2023