Joyous Suffering

James 1:2–4 (ESV)
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James defines our trials as a testing of our faith; a faith born in reliance on God and His resources to see us through the temptations and sufferings presented to us by this world. It is more than simple belief; it is steadfast determination that God’s indwelling presence and power will guide us in exhibiting godly behavior in all circumstances.

Trouble afford us two options: We can view it as an intrusion, an outrage, or we can see it as an opportunity to respond to it in specific obedience to God’s will. This is what James refers to as endurance.

When we think of endurance, we are reminded of something that is long in nature, or that requires strenuous effort. The endurance James writes of is just this: a dogged determination to pursue holiness when every internal human instinct is telling you the opposite. Oswald Chambers once wrote, “To choose suffering makes no sense at all; to choose God’s will in the midst of our suffering makes all the sense in the world.”

We won’t always choose to do what’s right. There will be times when we forget God’s Word, His enabling grace, or simply refuse to do His will. There’s something in us so flawed and fallen that it will not rise to the occasion. Only through recognizing this, can we live in the steadfastness James writes of so that our maturing can be made perfect.

God is still working on us, and using pain and trials is part of the process. We are typically inclined to complain and question our Lord, lean towards giving up, and begin feeling sorry for ourselves, yet we must learn to trust and obey, and recognize these trials as part of our growth. Behind every difficulty lies the purpose and love of our Father.

Our ordeal may be to endure a hard marriage, or face great opposition, or stay meek in the face of prolonged aggravation. Whatever it is—God is with us. He will provide the grace we need for as long as we need it. In this, perseverance is doing its completed work.

So while we might suffer great things, we are reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthian church: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Through all circumstances—declining health, broken friendships, marriage difficulties, and in the shards of our broken dreams, God’s Word seeks an opportunity to provide comfort. This is pure joy that a Father who loves us this much wants to enjoin Himself to us in our most difficult times.

Therefore rejoice that God is making you a better child of His than you ever thought possible!