Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. —James 1:2-3
Key Words from James 1:2-3:
Joy Meeting trials with joy is not flippancy or denial of what you are suffering. James is not saying, “just put on a happy face!” What then is this joy? The joy James calls us to is fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is true and strong (Nehemiah 8:10). This joy runs like a river deep and wide in our souls, flowing from the throne of grace, a river of assurance of being forgiven and accepted and adopted by the Father through Christ Jesus. It is the very presence of our Immanuel, God with us. For He is our life, and in Him is all the fullness of joy (Psalm 16).
Our joyful heart will affect our emotions, but God does not intend for it to be the other way around. Steady and strengthening, joy does not change with our circumstances. Think of a mother about to give birth to her child. She has joy even in the pain of childbirth because the long-awaited fulfillment of her hope is coming. When she sees her child take his first breath, joy in her soul overflows to her emotions in tears of happiness.
Trials There are trials of “various kinds” that will come our way in life. Our God, who loves us and knows everything about us, works each providential trial in our lives to test and mature us. Trials can be painful, but they come with purpose. He sends them to test our faith and build steadfastness in us. You may be tested with persecution for your faith; physical pain or illness; trials of mental illness or depression; financial struggles; the loss of a loved one through death, divorce, or their walking away from Christ. These are all very hard things and the pain is real, but God is greater. And as He deepens our faith in Him, the pain submits to His joy in us. Trials awaken us and remind us that we are the beloved children of our heavenly Father. Under His watchful eye, we can trust His testing of our faith as proof of His love for us (Hebrews 12:6).
Faith & Steadfastness He has told us why He is sending the faith-testing trials—to produce a great blessing in us. Steadfastness.
Trials that test our faith are not pleasant in the moment, but without them we will not learn steadfastness. We can be tempted and “lured away by our own desires” (James 1:14). But if we pass the test, our faith in God deepens. He will plant our feet firmly on the rock and keep us from doubting. Would there be a child of God who would want to be wavering in their faith? No! May the truth of His love and fatherly care prepare us now to receive with joy that test of faith He sends, and let it work in us steadfastness.
The book of James is a letter written to Christians in the first century. And like most letters we receive, we want to read it from beginning to end in one sitting. This week take time to prayerfully read through the book of James.
Knowing that joy is from the Lord and fruit of the Holy Spirit, what are some ways you can cultivate joy as you face various trials?
Can you name some instances in your past when God tested you and proved your faith? What lessons did God teach you then that you can now apply in your present trials?
Pray, asking God to give you unwavering joy and faith in Him (Psalm 34).