“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.” (James 1:2-4)
Previously, we looked at the teaching in this passage regarding –
1. THE REALITY WE FACE, namely, various trials from which God’s own children are not exempt.
2. THE RESPONSE WE ARE CALLED TO MAKE, namely, joy or rejoicing.
It needs to be clarified, however, that the Bible is not teaching Stoicism, i.e., acting as if we had hearts of stone and had no feelings whatsoever. 1 Peter 1:6 recognizes the fact that we can be “grieved” by trials. The important word to consider in James 1:2 is the word “count” or “consider”. Even though trials do grieve us, we can still rejoice if we let our minds focus on the truth that God is in control of our trials and that there is a wonderful outcome ahead of us if we trust him and surrender to his will (James 5:11). In a manner of speaking, this is a deep joy that can co-exist with deep pain.
Now, as we continue studying this passage, we next learn about —
- THE REASON WHY GOD ALLOWS TRIALS. That reason is: Our faith is precious to him (1 Peter 1:6,7).
He allows us to go through trials to test our faith, because –
(a) Faith pleases him (Hebrews 11:5, 6), and
(b) Faith honors him (Job 2:3).
In other words, if we trust God with all our hearts despite the trials he sends our way, God is glorified! We show to the world that God is so precious, so trustworthy, that no amount of pain will ever cause us to let go of him. And glorifying God is the whole point of our existence (1 Corinthians 10:31)(1 Peter 1:6,7).
Finally this passage teaches us about —
- THE RESULTS WE SHOULD EXPECT, namely, perseverance and perfection.
These two are connected. God wants us to be a people who are committed, who will hold on to him over the long haul, who will stick with him through thick and thin. And the only way we can become this kind of people is if our faith in him is frequently tested.
We have to cooperate with this process; we must allow steadfastness to have its full effect (i.e., we should not give up trusting God no matter what). Why? Because the end result is we will become the kind of people God wants us to become. In other words, God wants us to be spiritually perfect, spiritually mature, a people whose character is like that of our Lord’s, who endured the cross for the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12:2).This is the reason why God saved us: in order for us to be like him (Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:10). By the way, what was the joy that was set before Christ on the cross? Our salvation! (Isaiah 53:11)
Lord, we often grieve in the midst of various trials because trials are often painful. Still, we thank you in all circumstances because we know that you are working all things for our good. And that good is for us to become like our Lord Jesus Christ who for the joy set before him endured the cross. Help us to trust you no matter what, help us to show to the world that you are so precious and trustworthy that even in prison we will sing, even in the midst of pain, we will praise your name. This is the whole point of our lives, to glorify you in whatever we do for you are worthy of all glory and praise. In Jesus’ name, amen.