My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:1-6.
At times, the last emotion we would expect ourselves to feel is joy when we just lost our job, when the laundry pile is taller than we are, when the bills are mounting and your paycheck was gone the day you got it, when your kids are sick or when you’ve just been told that you have cancer. We don’t even want to think about perseverance when just making it through the day seems impossible. James tells us to consider these trials pure joy. What was he thinking?
Trials can make us feel depressed, helpless and out of control. When we let our problems overwhelm us, thinking that the burden is ours alone to take care of, Satan loves this. He loves it when we put all of our energy into anger and denial. Satan is waiting for the chance to fill our minds with doubt and frustration. He tells us that God allowed these things to happen to us because we don’t deserve any better. Satan may even convince us that God doesn’t love us and that’s why He allowed these trials to happen, which will eventually drive us away from God.
But according to James our trials are really sources of joy because they are signs that God loves us and wants to pull us closer to him. Trials are a good thing when they bring us to our knees to ask God for help. Our faith is strengthened as we give God the control and put our trust wholly in God’s promise. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.
Paul struggled with many trials in his life but he realized that in his weakest moments, God’s work in his life was the strongest. Like Paul, we persevere when we lean on God’s power and trust completely in his promises.
God knows we are weak and our faith is sometimes shaky but the blessing for those who persevere under trial is contentment and peace. It is the contentment and peace that comes from knowing that God is in complete control of this world and He has only our best interest in mind, knowing with confidence that our earthly life will end with eternal life in heaven.
This is the joy that James is talking about; a deep-seated contentment and peace that we have through Jesus.