23 February 2018

James 1

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…

James 1:2

“Joy” and “trials” are two words with which we are all well-acquainted. Taken separately they don’t surprise us. We know we will face trials in this life. We all desire joy. But put the word “in” between them, and we suddenly have a problem. “Joy in trials?” Really? How is that possible?

The book of James packs a punch in its first chapter. In fact, it hits hard on several areas of life. The brother of Jesus wastes no time in telling believers in the Lord what life is like as a Christian, and how to live as a follower of Christ. We all can relate to trials in our work situations, our family relationships, our financial state, and in trying to live as a believer in a world that more and more hates God. So how do we have joy in the midst of those struggles?

Joy is often equated with happiness. While we can be happy and joyful at the same time, joy does not mean we put on a plastic smile and act like nothing bothers us. But it does mean we are at peace because we know that even this battle will be used by God to grow us. Perseverance is its fruit and maturity is its end. Nothing is wasted when we trust in the Lord and lean on Him. It sounds simple but it runs counter to our sinful nature. We want relief now. But God often has a different timetable.

So how do we attain joy in the midst of trials? Only when we focus on God and not our circumstances can we have joy. In Philippians 2:17, Paul tells the Philippian believers: “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” Paul was chained up in prison, possibly facing death. But he kept his eyes on the Lord, and knew he did not suffer for nothing. Scores of other believers in the Bible did the same. So can we. Only when we keep our eyes on our loving Father and remember how He has carried us in the past do we have joy in the midst of the struggle. Is it difficult? Yes. But it’s not impossible.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

James 1:2