The book of James is said to be "the Proverbs of the New Testament" (Unknown). It certainly has much wisdom in it. In the next several articles, we are going to be going through this book and hope to glean much from it. In today's article, we will focus on having joy in our trials. We face many trials in our life. Sometimes these trials can be more difficult than others. Sometimes they can even make us feel as if we are alone. Should we fear trials or should we "count it all joy"? I am aiming to encourage us as we face the challenges of life. We will get through this together. James begins by saying, "Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith brings about perseverance. And let perseverance have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4, LSB). This seems like an odd statement. It seems abnormal to be joyful in the most difficult of times. So, how can one possibly be joyful in trial? We will explore three ways that we can do this. The first way to have joy in trial is to know that you are not alone. The second way would be to know that our life is hid with Christ. The third way would be to remember that this world is not our home.
We are not alone in going through our trials. James implores the Christian to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8). Since we cannot handle our trials alone, we must go to the One who has the wisdom to get us through it! Sometimes we forget this fact and try to manage our trials by ourselves. Jeremiah penned, "I know, O Yahweh, that a man’s way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23, LSB). What makes our struggles more difficult is not allowing God and each other help us through them. James gives us great insight by telling us to go to the source of wisdom. This also reminds me of what was penned in Romans 8:28. It is written, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28, LSB). This verse is not saying that our lives will be a bed of roses. This verse says that God can use our struggles to His and our benefit. The qualifications to this is twofold: 1). "all things work for good to those that love God" and 2). "according to His purpose". It is for His purpose that we overcome trials. It is for His glory that we overcome. For a more thourough explanation of this, read "Father, Son, Spirit & Word" by Earl D. Edwards. Let us remember this as we go through our trials.
We need to remember that our life is hid with Christ (Colossians 3:3). We belong to Jesus Christ. We need to surrender to His Lordship. When we gave our lives to Christ, we gave up ourselves. It is a complete surrender. Our Lord Himself said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it" (Luke 9:23-24, LSB). If we cannot deny ourselves, we have no right to follow Him. This can also be a reason why some trials seem more difficult than others. Some trials are brought on by our own selves. We must surrender to Jesus. If we keep ourselves ahead of Him our lives will be more and more difficult.
We must also remember that this world is not our home (Philippians 3:20-21). We are citizens of Heaven. What awaits us after this life is so much better for the faithful Christian. Our trials now will be well worth the reward that is to come. Remember Hebrews 11:13-16, "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been remembering that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now, they aspire to a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He prepared a city for them". If they could long for that which is only revealed in God's Word, then so can we. If they could overcome, then we must overcome! This mindset helps us push through the difficult trials of life.
It is my prayer that today's article has helped you grasp things that can help you go through trials. What our trials do is bring us to maturity and complete in Christ (James 1:3-4). In the end, our reward is abundant life with Christ Jesus our Lord. Are you ready for the reward? Have you surrendered your life to Him? If not then obey the gospel today and see what a blessing Christ is in your life (Rom. 10:17; Acts 17:30; Acts 8:37; Acts 2:38; Rev. 2:10). May your day be a great one for God!