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. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Does this passage of scripture challenge you?
Joy in trials and problems?
What is James thinking? He needs to get real!
Yet here the command is given very clearly, with some explanation as to why.
It is still hard to take.
This is why we will spend about the next week unpacking it.
Because to develop the fruit of spiritual joy we need deep roots to dig into every problem and complication and trust God through it. This will produce in us spiritual joy.
We should begin with thinking about the definition of a trial.
Many of us associate a trial with a legal proceeding where two parties are disagreeing over something bring it before a tribunal for resolution. Both parties present their evidence and a decision is made by either a judge or jury. It may be a criminal matter, where someone is declared guilty or not guilty or it may be a civil matter where someone is seeking damages from another for an injury or loss of some kind. If you’ve ever been involved in a trial like this, you know that the basis for it is a problem that can’t be solved outside the legal process. The people involved in it are not happy! They are upset, harmed or injured. Perhaps they have lost a loved one. So we know that joy is not something that comes to mind when we think of this kind of trial. Even when someone wins or loses the trial, often there is still an absence of joy because all we receive at the end is imperfect human justice. We may still have a hole in our hears!
A trial can also be defined as physical, mental or spiritual suffering that we endure. Again, not something we associate with joy! It’s a problem!
Where is the joy in that?
The joy comes in the resolution of the problem, the exacting of a penalty, the payment of our damages, the relief of our pain, the soothing of our spirits!
If we didn’t have the pain, we would not appreciate the relief!
Have you ever gone through a circumstance that was painful at the time but when you reflect upon it now, you are glad at having endured it? Or maybe you anticipate the resolution and know it is coming soon. A ready example can be an uncomfortable or difficult pregnancy. As the pregnancy goes on, the more the mother wants it to be over and to hold the child. This gets her through the discomfort and ultimately makes her joy even greater when the child is born.
I hope you’ll stay with me as we dig deep into this aspect of spiritual joy that is only obtained through trials.
All the Best in 2013!