Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 NIV
When we think of encouraging scriptures we might often think of gentle passages that lift us up, tell us of God’s plan, how He will protect us or something where we can rest easy.
But in this passage from James, we need to make an effort. Actually we need to make several efforts. First we have to consider if pure joy. James admits that it’s not automatically pure joy to face trials. “Consider it pure joy” he says.
He knows. He knows that nobody welcomes or enjoys trials. He knows we probably would look at him and say, “you’re nuts!”
Second, we face the trials — whatever kinds of trials we meet. We are tried and tested. We step up to meet them. And make no mistake these are not easy to face. That’s why they’re called trials.
And the thing about trials is that each of us faces different ones. And they hit us where we live as the expression goes. Satan knows right where to hit us to seek our failure and destruction. But God’s thing is that He knows we can face these trials. He has confidence in us beyond what we think we can do. He wants us to grow (trials seldom look like a positive growing experience up front).
Third, comes perseverance. Trials produce perseverance according to James. So, we face these trials and it’s not even like all will be fine after we’ve faced them. THEN we need to persevere. We need more.
We need to take the step of persevering. We say, “okay, I”m going on in this struggle, this huge setback, this opportunity to despair and say I WILL TAKE JOY IN THIS MOMENT AND IN THIS ONGOING STRUGGLE!” ( I think we need to say it aloud and loudly. A defiant statement in the face of Satan’s attacks and attempts to tear us down) And then we persevere.
We persevere in spite of the black hole of despair that stands before us.
We persevere because we have people in our corner.
We persevere sometimes because we don’t know what else to do.
We persevere because we know that God has been with us before and He still is.
And God doesn’t tell us how long it will take. (that’s why it’s called persevering i guess)
And I can’t ever find the words to make someone’s trials or perseverance easier. But James does. (gutsy guy) He says that when we’re done, or actually when perseverance is done we get to be mature, complete and lacking nothing. We’ll take that!
So be strong, through the tears and pain, let us trust the words of James and the God who is there for us. I pray this for you and I pray it for me.