“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
This is the first time and may be the only time you will hear me say THIS is not one of my favorite passages of scripture. In fact if I am being truthful, I have struggled with this scripture a lot over the years. I have honestly shook my fist at it at times. I do not want to count the trials and hard things that have come my way as joy. In fact I have felt like this so much to the point I almost skipped it when talking about faith. But I really know that I can’t.
I can’t skip it for many reasons. The first being that I do believe that all scripture is God breathed and you can’t just pull out the ones you like. (2 Timothy 3:16)
But also because I have lived it. First off the passage does not say to count it joy IF you meet trials but WHEN you meet trials. You see, we know that life on earth will be like that. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if life is rocking along and you are not meeting some trials now, the fact is that they will come. But you probably already know that. Life has a way of knocking us down, doesn’t it? All of us eventually will have stuff in our lives that are our trials. They may look different, but the fact is they will come. Life on earth is not perfect because we live in a fallen world. Adam and Eve left the garden a long time ago. So we know they are coming. But I have always looked at this verse and in my mind I wanted to shut down because I didn’t see how I could count the hard stuff of life as Joy.
But it’s looking beyond the trial that will bring the joy. The verse says the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. Some translations say patience, some say perseverance. You see it’s not the trials that will produce the faith, but it’s when we let our faith stand up to the trial that will produce the steadfastness in us, the patience, the perseverance. It’s the faith that we have taken the time to build, the faith we have built through our relationship with Him that will help us to stand up to the trial. This is why it is so important to build your faith when the season is a good season of rest. So you know where to go when the trials come. Because if you have that foundation of faith, the trials will not tear us down and my friends that’s when we can meet those trials with joy. Knowing that Jesus, the one who saved us through our faith, He has whatever we are walking in, in the palm of His hand.
And when we have built our faith and we can stand up to the trial, and it produces the steadfastness in us, in Jesus eyes we are perfect and complete and lacking in nothing. That’s where the joy comes in, knowing that our Father, our Savior is pleased with us.
Why did I know that I couldn’t skip this verse, that I have struggled with so many times over the years? Because I really do know that the hard things that I have had to lay at Jesus feet, the things that have tested my faith have produced a steadfastness in me FOR Him. I know that I walk more hand in hand with Jesus every day because of the times I couldn’t take a step without Him. And walking with Him is where my joy is!