Trials - "All Joy" - What!
How in the world can anyone count it all joy when they fall into various trials (James 1:2-3)? Seriously, you’re hit with significant sickness and you’re meant to consider that joy? You have a strained relationship that saps your emotional energy and you’re meant to think, ‘joy’? You have a reversal at work and somehow, as a Christian, you’re meant to process that as joy? The challenges brought on by Covid and the government’s response to it, joy for the Christian, really!?
We usually greet such trials with complaining and distress, but the Christian response, says James 1:2, should be ‘all joy’. This seems so unnatural as to be almost impossible, so what is James on about?
Trials are opportunities for us to strengthen our faith in God. If we respond well to trials it will produce endurance (verse 3), character and hope (Romans 5:3-5). Trials provide a chance for our faith to be “purified from selfish motives and misguided perceptions that often distort and weaken it.” (Hodges, p.19).
When we ‘fall’ into trials, view the situation from God’s perspective. He’s more concerned about developing godliness in us than ‘delivering’ us. In trials therefore be patient (v.3), be wise (v.5), don’t doubt God’s goodness (v.6), but see it for the opportunity it is for growth now (vv.9-11) and rewards later (v.12).