While we focused on James 1: 17-18 and 1:22-25 yesterday, we had to skip over some incredible wisdom contained in this first chapter. If you haven’t had an opportunity, click here to read the full chapter- it’s worth your time! One of the most intriguing passages in the whole letter comes in the first few verses:
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1: 2-4
It’s tempting to get hung up on this idea of being joyful when we’re facing trials or challenges- it conjures images of Christians building unconvincing facades that convey annoying happiness even though their insides are crumbling to pieces. I’m not sure that’s what James has in mind! I think instead that he’s encouraging us to always have the long-view in mind. Of course we’re going to experience sadness, frustration and anger at times- these are natural reactions to real-life struggles! Our error isn’t in allowing ourselves to have these feelings, it’s allowing these feelings to overwhelm the conviction of our faith- that we’re never alone in our struggle and that God will carry us through if we’ll allow it. The degree to which we lean into the promises of the gospel, is the degree to which we maintain the long-view of faith. When we can pull our heads and hearts out of our present circumstances- even for a moment- we open ourselves to the tiniest hint of joy that can come from the knowledge that our present trials will not have the final word. Rather, by the grace of God, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit will always speak words of comfort, hope and joy in the end.