Trials = Joy?
James 1:2 (NIV, 84’)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…
It seems there is nothing wasted in God’s economy. A shocking thought, I know, but a reality nevertheless. God doesn't waste anything, and so every opportunity we face is an opportunity for growth. In the case of today’s first step into the Book of James, that growth comes as the result of the testing of our faith.
James is not saying that we should find joy in the trial itself, but in the reasons behind it and the results of it. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 -7) is not the world’s way, but it is most definitely God’s way. Peter and the Apostles considered it a privilege to suffer like Christ had (Acts 5) and didn't work to avoid it. Suffering is part of what joins us to Christ and gives us rewards in Heaven (Romans 8 & 2 Cor. 4) and therefore is not something to be avoided at all cost.
I appreciate John MacArthur’s explanation:
The more we rejoice in our testing’s, the more we realize that they are not liabilities but privileges, ultimately beneficial and not harmful, no matter how destructive and painful the immediate experience of them might appear. When we face trials with the attitude that James admonishes, we discover that the greatest part of the joy is drawing closer to the Lord—the Source of all joy—by becoming more sensitive to His presence, His goodness, His love, and His grace. Our prayer life increases, as does our interest in and study of the Word, and in each of those ways our joy increases all the more.
If the goal is becoming more Christ-like, then facing trials helps pave the road to success, and in that, we can “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”