“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
James 1: 12
James 1: 2-4
In some contexts I enjoy trials I enjoy testing myself and pushing the limits. This in the main has been in sport and outward bound activities, for instance training for Athletics (the 800m) or football and completing long distance walks. When I walked the Camino a few years ago and the North Shore of Lake Superior more recently I genuinely relished the challenges and persevering through difficulties to the end; there was a real sense of achievement and lessons learnt along the way. James though, in these two verses of focus today, tells us that we should consider it ‘pure joy’ when we face trials of many kinds. Even if you share with me the aforementioned appreciation of challenges, considering trials pure joy is another step altogether. At least in the former circumstances I’ve described those challenges were my choice, in the latter class we can face truly horrendous situations. What are we to do when we lose a loved one, face serious illness ourselves, have a major breakdown in a relationship, deal with unemployment or simply have to cope with outrageous demands in life? Consider it pure joy?
Notice firstly the way James writes, the implication is that trials will come, not may come. Trials are part of life, we will all face them to some degree. So in a sense we are not to live in denial of their reality or in a false hope that they will never come or even with a mistaken view that because we are Christians God will not let us face trials. No the reality is that they are a reality. With this being the case we have to make a decision; how do we deal with them? I often think that if we have a bad, fearful or even disproportionate view of trials we have two problems; the trials AND our feelings. This is why what James shares can be truly helpful. He counsels us how to ‘consider’ our trials. He is not encouraging us to have a forced happiness during a trial or to feel ecstatic that we are going through difficult times. He is teaching us how to think about them.
Trials in God’s providence have a purpose. God will use them to refine and perfect us. As the eternal silversmith He will burn off the ‘dross’ of our lives and conform us to the likeness of Jesus; making us into what we were always intended to be. Trials develop trust, character and hope within us building up our relationship with God and one another in the Body. Persevering to the end holds rich rewards; the crown of life and the love of God (vs. 12). He moves on to help us have wisdom in trials, we will consider this next.
To Ponder: In today’s climate and your personal situation how do these truths help? Consider also Romans 5: 1-5 and 1 Peter 1: 3-9.
Pray: Lord Jesus, in love you faced many trials and overcame them so that we may have life. Please guide us so that, following you our Savior, we may walk through the joys, trials and challenges of this world toward the glory of the world to come. This we ask through you Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen
Praise: Take my Life and Let it be by Brian Doerksen
Refiners Fire by Hillsong
Incumbent at St Aidan's Anglican Church,