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
This December marks four years since our son Cooper went into the hospital for what was considered to the medical community, a routine open-heart surgery to repair a congenital heart defect. He did great through surgery and we marveled at the fact he came home a mere three days later. However, a week later, he became extremely ill and we ended up back in the hospital and were there four days before he was correctly diagnosed with an infection at the surgery site requiring the doctors to go back and reopen his sternum in order to remove the massive infection from his chest. He was so sick that after surgery the only reassurance the doctors could give us was that they had gotten all of the infection and they were hopeful he would be okay. We were angry, we were scared, and we had lots of questions. We spent every minute of the next month in the hospital while his chest and body healed. We were finally able to bring him home and we were excited about life returning to normal. However, about a week later, we made the decision to homeschool one of our boys for the remainder of the school year. The remainder of the school year, though turned into two full years. During this same time frame, we had a surprise pregnancy that brought with it its own fair share of issues and possible problems. It was a long and difficult two and half years for our family and felt as if every time we took a step forward we were slapped in the face with a new issue or trial to walk through. In hindsight, I see how this verse came alive during that time period. It was hard to consider all of it joy but it was a period in time where we were able to hold unswervingly to our faith and trust in God.
In these verses, James tells believers to “consider it pure joy. . . whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Many of you have heard this verse before and most of you realize it does not say “if you face trials” but instead this verse says that as believers you will absolutely face trials. So often, we think that once we give our lives to Christ and put our trust in Him our lives will be easy and then when faced with something difficult we either become angry at God or we question whether God even loves us and cares about our lives. However, the Bible gives example after example of God’s people enduring trials.
The specific trials James refers to are not trials that are a result or consequence of sin but are other trails and temptations we face as we trust Christ. James tells believers not only are you going to face trials but you are to consider it our count it pure joy. Why do you consider it pure joy? You consider it pure joy because the testing of your faith produces perseverance. You will recall “joy” is one of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 (click here to read blog post). This kind of pure joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit and is deep and abiding and remains steadfast in all circumstances, even difficult ones.
We consider our trials pure joy because trials are tests of our faith in Christ. It is always easy to profess a strong faith in Christ when things in life are going well. However, what happens when life is not easy? Are you still able to confess your belief and loyalty to Jesus in tough circumstances? Therefore, it is our faith that is being tested through trials to see if it is genuine and if it will stand up under pressure. I bought a waterproof case for my iPhone but I would not fully trust it was waterproof until I put the empty case in a sink full of water to test if water got inside the case or not. Testing is like the refining of a metal; it produces a better and stronger metal through the refining process.
The testing of our faith produces perseverance but then perseverance has a job to do. Perseverance is important because as God gives you the ability to patiently walk through your trial, it is also producing maturity and completeness in you. When James says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything,” he gives us the vision of being everything God created us to be. When we submit to that process, it results in spiritual maturity. Keep in mind, spiritual maturity does not mean that you ever arrive at a state of sinless perfection or at a point where you have all knowledge and quit maturing. Spiritual maturity is the idea that you are being molded and equipped for the calling God has put on your life. As you mature, the fruit of the Spirit will be more evident in your life and being complete means more than just being mature but that there is a sense of being a “more well-rounded” believer as your character becomes more and more like Christ.
As you grow in your faith in Jesus, I hope that you long to fully be the person God desires you to be. When you long to be like Christ, you can have assurance and consequently joy whenever you face trials of many kinds. Trials, if you let them, can be opportunities for testing to produce perseverance in you and when perseverance finishes its work, you will be mature and complete not lacking anything and this is the reason for pure joy.
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We have another great lock screen image for you to download, this is a great way to keep this verse in front of you as you memorize it.
Hand lettering by Nicole Baldridge. Find her work on IG @nicolebaldridgedesigns