Nobody likes to suffer. And nowhere in Scripture does God encourage Christians to seek out suffering. However, trials and temptations are a part of life. God is not the author of temptation or evil. But God does allow Christians to face temptation and evil as part of His plan to shape us into the image of His Son. Trials like physical pain, family fighting, attacks from unbelievers, conflicts with other Christians, and failures in school and life can push us to the breaking point. These hardships press us to put all of our hope and trust in Christ and Christ alone. Suffering burns off the dross, our spiritual impurities, the junk in our hearts and lives that keeps us from being like Jesus. And when we face temptations to sin and abandon our commitment to Christ, we find out just how strong our faith really is.
That is why James tells us to “consider it pure joy” (v. 2) when we face those trials and temptations that we hate and cry about. These temporary troubles are purifying our faith. They prove that our trust in Jesus is not rooted in the blessings He gives us but in our relationship with Him as our one and only Redeemer. And God uses our sufferings to build “perseverance,” (v. 3) a fancy Bible word for toughness and endurance. God’s plan is to make us into “mature and complete” Christians, people of spiritual strength with roots that dig deep into Him and His Word. The road to heaven is not a cakewalk. But if salvation didn’t cost us something, would we really value it like we should? Whatever troubles you face right now, take them to Jesus. Let God do His refining work in you, and let His Word and His Spirit give you the strength you need to find the joy of perseverance.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Questions to Think About
- What trials are you facing in your life right now?
- Can you think of trials in the past and see how God used them to strengthen your faith and character? Explain.
- In what ways are you a more mature believer now than you were a year ago?