James 1:2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
How does one experience “joy” in the midst of trials? Doesn’t seem to make sense really – unless we clarify what is meant by “joy”. In our culture, “joy” is often associated with “happiness” or “pleasantness”. This is not what the writer is referring to in this passage.
Ever seen a woman give birth? My wife and I have three children and I was present to watch her go through labor and delivery all three. Perhaps you’ve been present when a friend or relative was in labor rather than a spouse. No matter. Let’s just say I’m glad women give birth and not men!
There is a great deal of pain and struggle in the midst of the birthing process. Yet, once the baby is born, the mood changes radically. When you see the product of the birthing process, whether it’s your child or someone else’s child, all the pain and struggle is worth it. The pain gives way to joy.
At least until the child becomes a teenager. 🙂
In today’s passage the writer is not suggesting that it’s fun to face “trials of any kind”. He’s suggesting that the fruit of trials is worth the struggle – in this case, the fruit is “endurance” so that we “may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing”. And as such a person, the Lord can use you in more and greater ways to represent him in the world, to be a channel for the Kingdom of God to bless you and those around you.
Some of you are in the midst of trials right now. It’s not fun. It’s painful. My prayer for you today is that you will lean on the Lord to see you through. Better days are ahead dear sisters and brothers. As is a better you.
Lord, give us grace to endure trials and to mature in you. Amen.