Main point summary
Since trials are God's training ground for unwavering Christian maturity, we should meet them with joy.
Have you ever wondered why every person who enlists in the military has to go through boot camp? It doesn't matter if you intend on going into the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, everybody who enlists must go through some kind of intense training boot camp. The main purpose of going through a U.S. Military boot camp is "to prepare men and women to become warriors and perhaps, to put themselves into situations and locations where they could become injured or even lose their lives. In our current society, we have to train people to run to the sound of gunfire and perform under gun fire, even with the threat of death. This defies all personal logic and goes against all human instinct." James is saying something very similar as he opens his letter to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion. James tells these Christians that trials are preparing them for battle. What battle might you ask? Every person who is saved by God steps into the battlefield of "this present darkness." (Ephesians 6:12). Once saved by the blood of Jesus, you now have a target on your back that reads "Christian." The rulers, the forces of evil and cosmic powers over this present darkness want nothing more than to take you out and drag you down to hell with them. They hate Jesus and they now hate you. However, God in his sovereignty knows this. In fact, he allows tests and trials to come into our lives to show us whether we have a genuine faith or not. He allows us to experience test and trials so that the end result is an unwavering and enduring faith in the midst of the battle (Psalm 18:34). One of the most amazing things that God calls us to while going through these tests and trials is to meet them with joy and to let them have their full effect. To the unsaved, this defies all logic. It goes against all human instinct. Who would joyfully run into the battlefield "this present darkness" and "fight the good fight of the faith" (1 Timothy 6:12) knowing that there will be great cross bearing (Mark 8:34) suffering that will eventually lead to death? The world wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole! I think that reality is very helpful. If you wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole then you should ask yourself whether or not you have a genuine faith. What's your training and battlefield mindset? Do you meet your tests and trials with joy? Do you meet them with joy knowing that God has used what was meant for evil for your good? Do you know that Satan would use them to discourage you but God uses them to encourage (give you more courage) you. How does that make you feel? James says that we meet our tests and trials with joy not only because they produce a steady and unwavering faith, but also because they make us complete. They complete us and perfect us because as we go through them we find that we never lack a single thing. In them we find God supplying every need that we have (Philippians 4:19). In them, we find not ourselves but rather God. We find that in order to meet our trials with joy we are on our knees in prayer asking God to give us something that we cannot muster up in our own flesh. Tests and trials are hard! There is no way that we can have joy and let them have their full effect apart from God extending us his grace and mercy to make his name great through them. We recognize our incompleteness through the trial while at the same time recognizing how God completes us by generously helping us through them. Tests and trials are God's training ground for Christian maturity. Since this is true, it might benefit us to pause and reflect on our own lives. How do you feel about that? What are your thoughts about meeting your trials with joy? Is this a new concept or idea to you? What do you think about all of the training that you have been going through?
e Count it all joy, my brothers, 1
Christian, count everything as joy
Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου,
when you meet trials f of various kinds,
when God allows you to be tested and tried in various ways,
ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις,
for you know
for you know something
that g the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
in other words when your faith is tested the outcome results in an unwavering and enduring faith.
ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν.
And let steadfastness have its full effect,
And let your unwavering and enduring faith continue to the very end of what you are going through
ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ ἔργον τέλειον ἐχέτω,
that you may be i perfect and complete,
in order that you may reach full maturity and complete
ἵνα ἦτε τέλειοι καὶ ὁλόκληροι
lacking in nothing.
in other words lacking in nothing.
ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι.