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. James 1: 2-4
I’ve had a difficult time with my health recently. My issues don’t even compare to what some of my friends have been going through lately so I haven’t been putting my struggles on the “trial” level. Trials in my thinking were big things, like cancer or chronic pain. What I’m dealing with is just inconvenient and uncomfortable. It’s not a big deal that I have to cancel plans and not do the things that make me happy… My momentary light affliction doesn’t compare to their momentary light afflictions. Yet deep down I was still feeling afflicted but since I wasn’t categorizing it as a trial, I was just dealing with it (and not very well, I might add…). Then someone simply said to me that what I’ve been going through was a trial. It was shocking, validating and encouraging all at once, because this really has been a difficult last few months.
James said “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds.” He didn’t just say big trials, which means that James 1 applies to me too. So now that I’ve finally realized that this is a trial, I’m supposed to consider it pure joy. I have to admit that I’m not doing very well on this test. This refining flame is annoying. There I said it. I don’t like it. I love the Refiner but I don’t like the refining process—it’s hurtful, shows me terrible things about myself and is lasting way too long (but I guess that’s the way it “produces perseverance”…). So where in the world does this joy that James speaks of come in?
Well, James uses the word “consider.” This is not a passive word. This is something we have to do. We have to use our minds to mull it over. So here are a few things I’ve come up with in my ponderings.
- This ordeal has made me slow down and has humbled me. I’m not able to go from sun-up to sun-down like I have in the past. I have had to realize that I am not superwoman. My pride and self-dependence have had a serious blow…which is good. I’m grateful that God has shown me (again, in a new way) just how much I desperately need Him to be my Strength and Helper. I find joy in that. He is strong and quick to help me.
- I now also have more compassion for those who are sick. It’s depressing to not be able to get out and do things. It’s humbling to be the one receiving help rather than giving help to those in need. It’s hard to be sick. But this compassion that I now have for others who are sick makes me more like Christ. The Scriptures say that He was often moved by compassion for the sick in His earthly ministry. This brings me joy. I want to be more like Christ.
- Joy also comes from knowing that God is using this in my life to draw me closer to Him. He’s revealing my sin, granting me repentance, and sustaining and comforting me through it all.
- There is also joy in knowing, as I alluded to earlier, that these momentary afflictions are not worth comparing to the glory that is being prepared for me in Heaven (2 Cor 4:17). This is temporary. It will not last. This too shall pass. Even if I have to spend the rest of my earthly life dealing with trials (which we all will), eternity awaits. I will spend it looking into my Beloved’s eyes and letting him wipe away every tear.
What are some ways that you “consider it joy” when trials come your way?
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Cor 4:16-18