2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. ~ James 1:2-3
We return today to our study of the book of James which is a book that reveals to us substantive faith. This letter is of unique and peculiar significance to us because it comes from one of the half brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In v.2 of today's passage we read, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds."
Trials are imperative for without trials our faith does not grow. If our Christianity is genuine, it will show in the midst of our troubles. Our faith in the God of the Bible is not only good when life is going well, it is good when it is not going so well. In fact, our faith in the God of the Bible is mostly legitimized when life is not going the way we want it to. The Christians to whom James wrote were suffering all types of difficulties. They had been scattered or driven away from their homes.
Now, in v.2 James wrote, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds."
James begins with the value of the trials that come into our lives. James reminds us to be joyful "when" we go through trials, not if. He reminds us to make the choice to consider our experience with trials with pure joy.
The word consider can also be translated count, and it is a mathematical word. Consider or count is a useful word on the ledger of our lives. Trails aid us in discovering what is truly substantive in this life. At the darkest time of their night in prison, in Acts 16, Paul and Silas sang for joy. Paul told us in Philippians that he considered all things loss in comparison to knowing Christ.
The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, "In this world you will have tribulation." Like James initial audience, we will face difficult times in our lives. We must never forget that like James' initial audience, we are God's scattered people, not God's sheltered people. Trials are a must to the maturation of our faith in the God of the Bible.
Now, James used the Greek word "peirasmos" which basically brings with it the idea of trouble. Trials are those things in life that disrupts our tranquility, that robs us of peace, comfort, and happiness. And since James calls these trials as many or multi-colored, we must recognize they don't just come to us in one package. They show up in multi-packages.
C.S. Lewis once said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
The word "trial" does not necessarily mean temptation. The presence of trials in our lives does not necessarily mean a solicitation to evil. In fact, the context here in James clearly shows us that the idea is not to emphasize some subjective solicitation to evil, but rather an objective difficulty to prove and strengthen our faith. When trials enter into our lives, we are in the position to be more convinced that God is really involved in our lives, even in the unwanted things of life.
One of the most interesting realities of suffering is that our personal pain also speaks to those around us. Our pain becomes God’s megaphone to a watching world. The world gravitates to the cancer patient who has hope and peace. Bystanders are astounded over the parents who cling to God the Father as they bury their own child. Our pain gives us a platform to testify to the truth of God's existence and unique involvement in our lives.
The scope of God's character and grace does not change when suffering arrives in our lives. As we trust God, even in our heartache, that trust speaks of a hope that extends well beyond what we can see or touch. The testing of our faith in the God of the Bible is such an important part of the growth of our spiritual lives, but also our witness to others. When we do not find a way to see God through our trials, our trials end up as temptations. Temptation can lead us to sin and we could potentially fall to that sin.
James wrote in v.3, "because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
Our trials can lead us to greater dependence upon God. Trials are tests that reveal the genuineness and the strength of our faith. Trials can, on the one hand, reveal the genuineness of our faith, and they can, on the other hand, reveal also the strength of our faith in the God of the Bible. What we do through a trial will reveal whether we really believe God and are genuinely saved, and it will also reveal the strength of our faith.
When we find ourselves in the middle of a trial, we will be naturally driven to the Lord. And, most often, we discover the weakness of our faith in the Lord. This is a good thing because in this context we are driven to prayer, driven to lean on God's strength. We naturally think this is weakness, but it is really strength. Trials that produce true faith lead us to the pain of inadequacy. It is in these moments that we are cast upon the strength of God. It is in these moments that we see Him with our hearts.
In v.3 of today's passage we read, "because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
The product of our trials is perseverance. When trials show up in our lives, we do not stop following the Lord Jesus. In fact, our resolve to follow Him and to know Him is strengthened. We rejoice in the Lord through the trial, as it drives us to Him. We don't rejoice in the trial in and of itself, we rejoice in the trials for what it does for us. James uses the Greek word "hupomoné" which is translated in the English as perseverance. We only get perseverance through enduring trials. And, the point of this endurance is to know the Lord Jesus for ourselves in a much greater degree than we did before.