“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” (James 1:2–7)
One of the greatest privileges of being a Christian is the exemption from trials and suffering. The terrible things that are portrayed on the evening news, and all of the hardships that others face are truly heartbreaking but these are trials that will never affect anyone that is truly serving God. Wouldn’t that be nice if that was true. Obviously, these statements are sarcastic, and the trials and hardships that happen to people that are not Christians, are things that happen to Christians as well. There are some that do believe that sufferings and trials are evidence of someone’s sins and the hurt they experience is because of sins they have committed. Although it can be the cause of some suffering and trials, sin is not the only reason some will face hard times. Job was a righteous man, he was one that hated evil, he was one that God considered to be His servant, but Job faced hardships. The apostles were warned repeatedly by Jesus they would face tribulation (John 16:33). The apostle Paul prayed thrice for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed but was told “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Jesus was without sin (1 Peter 2:22), but it was necessary for Christ to suffer (Luke 24:46) on our behalf, and now we have a Redeemer that is acquainted with our grief and is able to “succour” (to run to the aid of those who cry for help) them that are tempted (Heb. 2:18). In the book of James, we are told to “count it all joy” when we are faced with trials and hardships, but it may be difficult when going through trials to find any joy. How do we continue when we are facing hard times? How do we keep moving forward when we want to take a step back or maybe retreat to a private place and cut ourselves off from the world so we may be able to heal? James 1:2-7 instructs us to have precaution for the trials, have patience through the trials, and to pray in the trials.
Count it all joy when ye fall into “divers temptations” (James 1:2). If it were true that Christians would be exempt from trials and persecutions why would the Holy Spirit inspire James to write this verse? It is obvious, from this verse and many more, that trials are something that every person will face in one way or another. James writes that there will be temptations, or trials to come, and does not suggest how we may be able to be in a right relationship with God to prevent the trials. What are these “divers temptations”? Oftentimes, the word “temptations” (“trials” in the NKJV and ESV) is a word that is used to define “a putting to the proof” or a “test”. The temptations or trials mentioned in this verse are the inward trials that test our character, and outward trials that test our strength. These temptations/trials are common to every person. At times, everyone will face the loss of a loved one, some will face financial struggles, some will be told by a doctor of the serious condition they or a loved one is in. These are the moments in life that shake us to our core, and in these moments James instructs “count it all joy”. Easier said than done, right?
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3–4). James continues teaching about trials and instructs to have patience through the trials. It is through the trying or testing of our faith that will produce patience. Patience is not something for which most people like to wait. I have often heard of the person that prayed for patience and asked “Father, grant me the patience of Job, and give it to me now”. We live in a fast paced society. Everything is instant or high speed and we have grown accustomed to instant gratification. There are times in our lives when things have a way of slowing us down. There may be times when everything is “smooth sailing” and everything is going exactly as we would like them to, but then, out of nowhere, trials come knocking at the door. When these times come, life seems to slow down and the trials we are having to endure seem as if they will never end. We have to “let patience have her perfect work”. When we suffer the loss of a loved one, when facing financial hardships, when our world is closing in on us from every side, then we have to be patient so we may be perfect, complete, entire, and wanting nothing. It has been said that as the wind blows against the trees, the roots of the tree grow deeper into the ground and the tree is stronger because of the testing winds. Sometimes, through trials, we are able to be still and allow our roots to dig a little deeper and becoming stronger in the faith.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:5–7). When we are in trials and do not know what we will do next, James reminds us to turn our attention to God. Prayer is a wonderful tool that has been given to Christians, as we have been given “every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Prayer is our way of communicating with the Father, and through prayer we are able to access the ears of the One that created all (Eph. 3:20-21). When we let our petitions made know unto God (Phil. 4:4), we are able to have the confidence that He hears our prayers and will answer them according to His will (1 John 5:14). We are told in James to “ask in faith” and can do that because we understand the nature of God toward His children and understand He is a liberal giver. He has given to the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). God gave His only begotten Son to the entire world because of His great love (John 3:16). When we pray, as we are going through trials, we are able to have the faith necessary because of the greatness of God and His ability to care for His creation.
Trials are never easy, and when we are facing them, we may feel as if they will never end. When trials do come, how do we face them? Are we patient through the trials, and are we praying for the will of God to be done in our lives? Count it all joy when trials come, be patient in them, look to the Father for guidance, and trust that God will provide for His children.