”My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
James 1:2-4 ”My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
The first verse of James tells us to whom he is writing, “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:” Called the Diaspora, or Dispersion, the Christian Jews were being persecuted mercilessly in Israel, causing many to flee, seeking shelter away from their ancestral homeland. As you can well imagine, these were Christians undergoing tremendous trials and hardships. Being in Jerusalem, James thoroughly understood and empathized with his flock, and therefore wanted to address this topic in order to strengthen, admonish, and help comfort this body of believers in their time of travail. Therefore, his theme is twofold, the first is obvious to most Christians, we will have trials and tribulations along the way. The second is instructive, and much more difficult: rejoice in those difficult times.
James bids to have a joyful view in both our hearts and minds when faced with trials and obstacles that produce afflictions and even persecution for the gospel’s sake. He’s not referring to the temptations of Satan or fleshly temptations to sin, those are cause for grief, those are the fiery darts unsettling our souls. No, James is referring to trials of faith by our Heavenly Father. Trials such as Abraham faced when instructed by Jehovah to sacrifice his only son and heir Isaac.
It is a certainty of fact, we as followers of Christ will face trials of various sorts, temptations, and tribulations. Notice James doesn’t say “My brethren, count it all joy if you fall in to various trials…”, no, he says “….when you fall into various trials” Peter tells us much the same thing: 1 Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. One of my favorite chapters in the bible is Hebrews 11, commonly referred to as “The Hall of Fame” chapter, it is a recitation of heroes of the faith who lived out their faith in the face of tremendous difficulties, trials and tribulations. I especially like these verses: Hebrews 11:35-38 “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. We live in world far from that reality; and yet still the trials and tribulations we face dramatically affect us and shape us.
We should rejoice in trials primarily because it test our faith. Often, it seems as if God isn’t listening during those times, and it feels so very lonely. But this is where the mental aspect of faith has to take over, because we are given the Living Word of God to know and understand faith. When we feel like our Father is so very far away, and our prayers are falling on deaf ears, then we go to scripture; and we see God is omnipresent, in all places at all times. We see God is omniscient, all-knowing, and we are comforted knowing God does hear our prayers and knows our plight. We know the Psalmist tells us in Psalm Chapter 9, “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
What does this testing of our faith produce? Real patience, that particular fruit of the Spirit which endures to the very end. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:20 “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.”
The wise man tells us in Proverbs 24:10 “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.” Let us not be a people of small strength, let us not be a people who quake and faint when face with trials and tribulations. Let’s abstain from bickering and griping about who ails us. Instead, as the song says “Count your blessings, name them one by one”, and in doing so we will find favor with God as we grow in faith and patience.
In the midst of trials and tribulations, we can’t forget the Lord’s comforting works spoken by the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”, and we do well to keep these words in mind: Joshua 1:5 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”
I don’t worry o’er the future For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him For He knows what lies ahead
I don’t know about tomorrow, it may bring me poverty
But the one who feeds the sparrow, oh he’s the one who stands by me
And my path that be my portion may be through the flame or flood
But His presence goes before me, and I’m covered with His precious blood
Patrick is a member of Pleasant Grove Reformed Church, a native Texan
and a father of three. As an author, when he is not writing, he works in the oil & gas industry.
At 11 A.M. for our worship service!