Thank God For Trials!
“Count in all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2). On the surface this seems to be a rather peculiar (or absurd) exhortation. Rejoice because my life has become burdensome? Really? If some thought the apostles were drunk on the day of Pentecost, I wonder what those same people would think about the way James is talking!
Let’s not misunderstand what James is saying, though. He is not saying that trials are inherently good. It is not a good thing when a loved one becomes very sick. Nor is it necessarily a good thing to lose a job. However, James is saying that good can come as a result of these or other types of trials. In particular he mentions steadfastness (or patience). It is through resistance that strength and perseverance are developed. Imagine how different (weak!) we would be if everything was simple!
Difficulties and trials have the capacity to cultivate genuine character and faith. They can help us to depend on God. Many times they can help prepare us for both greater difficulties and opportunities that lie ahead. We also gain strength and confidence knowing that we have conquered trials in the past.
James wants us to understand that these trials aren’t from God (see James 1:13), but yet God has the power to work good things from them (Rom. 8:28).
As difficult as it is, let us seek to have a biblical and optimistic perspective concerning our trials. James says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (1:12). We don’t have to pray for trials, but we should pray that we have the right perspective about them and deal with them productively!