Enduring pain to attaining joy
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:2-6
When James wrote this letter, the people he was writing to were experiencing very difficult times. They have to flee from their homes, their work, as well as their friends because of the persecution. They left because they were no longer holding on to their Jewish faith and had embraced the teachings of Christ. So James reminded them that trials are inevitable. Just because you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior does not mean that you will be shielded from experiencing hardships in life. The command “consider it an opportunity for great joy” when you go through various trials does not mean that you become pain lovers and that you seek out difficulties and trials. On the contrary, trials are part of living in this world. This is what Job alluded to when he said, “People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire” (Job 5:7). Trials in various forms will be part of our experience in this life. And since we do not know when and what form of trials we will be facing, God commands us to face them knowing that we will learn great lessons as we go through them. In order for an athlete to achieve mastery of the sports, he or she has to endure arduous training as well as having a discipline to deny oneself of habits that could derail the goal to be victorious. The same principle can be applied with the child of God whose goal is to live a life pleasing to God, “conforming to the image in the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29). In order for this to be attained, part of living the life of Christ is to face difficulties. Life on this side of eternity will be difficult. But if you will be committed to God’s purposes for your life, you will understand that part of maturing in faith is to endure trials. When trials come, let them help you open up opportunities for you to build a strong character. God wants you to experience joy even when dealing with difficulties in life. Joy comes once you know that you are secured in Christ and that strength and wisdom comes from Him. Ask God in prayer to provide you wisdom and dependence on His working His purposes for your life even when you are dealing with difficulties. He Himself had set an example when He endured the cross because at the end of such experience is the promised joy. “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:2).