Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 2:2-4)
In a ‘now or never’ culture, God’s process is more like ‘wait and see’. And this is probably no more evident than in our attitude toward trials, troubles and suffering.
I have suffered much less than others, but even to the extent which I have experienced suffering, I still find these words of James to be some of the most jarring in all of Scripture. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”
When trials do come up, my first reaction is rarely one of joy, but is usually one of “Oh Lord, why me?” or some other expression of frustration or disappointment or despair. But James calls us to joy. Why is that?
What many Christians in the global south have come to understand is that God, because of His great love for us, disciplines us and allows us to go through difficult times for our ultimate good. James points out the same truth in verses 3 and 4: “, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
We are called to count it all joy, not because of the pain that we might experience but because of the ultimate end which is that you may be complete, lacking in nothing.
There is a story told of a soon-to-be-butterfly that was struggling to get out of its cocoon. As the story goes, someone saw this struggle and, in his or her desire to provide assistance, gently peels open the cocoon only to end up removing the very hardship that was necessary for the insect to become a mature and complete butterfly.
So it is with us. We so often want to view our hardships as nothing but an obstacle toward growth and maturity. However, the very trials we experience are from the hand of God and are working to produce steadfastness leading to maturity.
The way the Lord works in us through trials is mysterious at times, but let’s take comfort in knowing that it is the Lord who is working and because of this, we can count it all joy.
How have you discovered God’s purpose in your suffering? Leave a comment and tell us about it.