“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
Here’s what James is not saying: he is not saying that you should be happy about suffering because suffering builds your pain tolerance.
That’s the picture a lot of us get when we read this passage. We picture ancient Christians being tortured for their faith and James saying, “Be happy, the more times they torture you, the less it will hurt.”
That is not what James was saying.
Have you ever been so dependent on the Lord that the only way you were gonna make it was if He showed up? I have. So many times. One specific instance comes to mind. My wife and I had decided that we were gonna help someone financially. They were in a bad spot and just needed someone to come through for them. We had looked at our bills and our family’s needs, and in all honesty, we couldn’t afford to help this friend and satisfy our own needs, but we were determined to be God’s faithfulness for them. So we sacrificed our need, and we gave them the money they needed during their crisis.
The next day, I remember coming to God and just telling Him that I trusted Him to take care of me and my family. And then I went to work. I knew that if God didn’t come through, I would be in a very bad spot, but we had done what we felt was right and were ready to live with the consequences. A few hours later, I was sitting in our office break room and I got a text from my wife letting me know we had received a check in the mail for $500. An unexpected check. He came through.
Here’s what you need to know: We are promised that if we will put the Kingdom first, God will meet us in the midst of our faithfulness and satisfy our needs. That means, when my faithfulness to the kingdom brings me pain and poverty and suffering and loss, I can trust that God will meet me in the midst of that and make me whole.
With that in mind, what James was saying was, get excited when you face trouble, because every time you face trouble, God will come through for you and your resolve to be faithful will grow. The testing of your faith will produce endurance.
As Christians, it is important that we do not fear relying on God. Faithful service in His Kingdom will put us in situations where we go without, where we suffer, where people reject us and hate us and attack us. Faithfulness to the Kingdom will leave us hungry and broken and cold at times. But, and hear me, He . Will. Show. Up.
Maybe you are like the Jews that James was writing to, and you are facing ridicule, rejection and pain because of your faithfulness to Jesus. Or maybe you are poor or homeless or alone. I don’t know what you are going through, but I know that despite it all, God has purposes for you that your circumstances have no power to interfere with. So take joy in various trials...
Don’t be so afraid of lack that you fail to be faithful. Rather, take James’ advice and look forward to every opportunity to revel in God’s promise. Jump at every chance to give until it hurts. Don’t run from those unbelievers you know will challenge you. Don’t hide from the people who try to use you and abuse your kindness. Don’t get quiet just because you know the name of Jesus will get you ridiculed or abused. Embrace it all. Remain faithful. And watch as God shows up again and again and again. See what it does to your faith. ;)