I have some friends who have gone through several huge trials. Each trial has been more than what most of us go through in a lifetime, and they have gone through many trials. Where is the joy in that? I have had some difficult trials in my past and it is not easy to see the joy in such trials. These verses in James can be easy to read when things are going well, but they can be so difficult when circumstances are overwhelming. If you haven’t read James 1:2-12, please do.
When reading this verse, it is good to remember who the author is. James was Jesus’ brother. He was living during a time when the early church was heavily persecuted. When James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance,” he understood what trials were. He knew what it was like to see brothers and sisters in faith persecuted and killed. He knew what it was like to face intense hatred. That perspective helps because we know that the author wasn’t writing those words in vain; he faced trials.
James shows that the trials develop perseverance and grows our faith. When we can face our trials with the knowledge that when we come out on the other side we will have stretched our faith, we can have joy. Through trials, we may get to experience a miraculous pouring of God’s provision. Through trials, we may experience God’s presence in a way we have never experienced. Through trials, we may learn to love the people around us more and become empathetic. Through trials, we may see how God walked with us the whole time. One thing we know without a doubt is that no matter what happens, we will change as a result of our trials and if we let God do His work in our lives, we will become more like Him! We can have joy in knowing that we are becoming more like Him. James even says in verse 5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” We can ask God for wisdom through our trials!
Please turn to Hebrews 12:2-3. Jesus knew that if He endured the cross, His joy would come in our salvation. Remember what Nehemiah said? “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” We receive joy when we are obedient, but having joy about what is on the other side of our trial can keep us going through the trial with hope. Can we be joyful about bad things? Trials are not joyful events and a trial does not give us joy, but we can have joy through the trial because our hope brings joy.
Have you prayed for wisdom through your trial? Have you had joy in the knowledge that God is growing you?