“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sister, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” James 1:2
Pure joy during trials? Trials have a way of twisting our intestines, making us weep, and provoking us to worry. It seems almost impossible to be joyful when we’d rather throw a tantrum and shake the universe with the age-old question: “Why?”
Yet James tells us that we can view trials with pure joy. He explains further: “the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:3-4)
The life of a Christian is not a bed of roses. The goal of the Lord in our lives is not to make life easy or to remove every difficult obstacle. His goal is to make us like Christ; forming in us His character, His ways, His actions, His reactions, His love. God says in his Word, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
Conformed to Christ’s image. Being like Christ. Trials have a way of making our fleshly selves die so that Christ rises in us. Of course, we are given a choice on how we respond to trials and tests. Do we succumb to our selfish tendencies, ways, and decisions, or do we take the route of humility and selflessness and obedience? I love that the Bible says this: “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). We have an example in Christ. He endured well and was made perfect and complete through His sufferings.
If we have ever asked Christ to be Lord of our lives, then He is committed to take us on a journey of ever-increasing glory (2 Cor.3:18). He’ll take us through trials, refining us like silver till the dross in our hearts is removed and we reflect His face. This should cause us joy.
One comforting thought we can hold on to when we go through trials is this: God sees our trials from the viewpoint of triumph. He knows how to turn our brokenness into wholeness; our ashes into beauty. He is the God of life; the God of resurrection; the God who knows all things, the author and finisher of your faith. The grave will never have the last say because HE is LIFE. He is the God whom we can trust to make all things work out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He is still the God who says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
We truly have a reason to consider trials with pure joy. May we rejoice in the Lord as our character is being molded to His! The challenge is now in front of us: let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1b).