James opens his letter with a statement that is dumbfounding! Here it is: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” (James 1:2).
Trials? Rejoice in trials?
This is hard to do, and if you are like me and the countless others who do have trials far more often than we might choose, then you also realize that being tested drives us into some deeply profound soul-searching! And it might just bring us a little bit closer to God.
Jesus suffered. He endured His trials, because He had an ultimate goal that was unshakeable (Compare Hebrews 4:14-15; 12:1-2). A significant part of why He underwent what He did was for us! He is our High Priest and the One who can and who does help us!
Jesus had to have help in His trials. He found it by yielding to His Father’s will and by asking for help, as we read in Hebrews 5:7: “… who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear…”
James adds: “… knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience [endurance or perseverance]” (James 1:3).
It does then seem that our trials can bear a positive outcome, but that “endurance” is the fruit of staying the course of our calling and persevering in the testing of our faith.
Qualitatively, it is our faith in Jesus Christ and in our Father that is being refined and perfected through trials. If we, like Jesus Christ, come to God for help, then we will also endure unto eternal life: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
God’s help in time of need–in times of seemingly unbearable trials–is the greatest assurance we could possibly have, and it is the reason we can count even the testing of our faith with “all joy”!