Growing in Times of Trials
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the twelve tribes dispersed abroad. Greetings. 2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:1-4)
The book of James was written by the younger half brother of Jesus, being the son of Joseph and Mary. Even though he was related to Jesus, James took a humble approach and addressed himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The letter was addressed to “the twelve tribes dispersed abroad,” meaning Jewish-Christians all over the world. We will see in the coming weeks that James will cover a plethora of topics, making the letter similar to the wisdom filled book of Proverbs.
After James short “greetings,” he immediately jumps into his first topic, from verses 2 to 12, about external trials. James calls for believers to have a mentality shift, that although you will experience “various trials,” you should “consider it a great joy.” How can one be joyful when experiencing difficulties and challenges from life? Because going through these trials will help produce good fruit in your life as seen in verse 3: “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Endurance, or perseverance, will grow as believers cling to God for strength to power through. As commentator Thomas Lea writes, “Tested faith becomes spiritually tough and rugged.”
Finally, in verse 4, James tells believers that through this development of endurance, believers will be “mature and complete, lacking nothing.” That isn’t to say that they will be sinless or faultless in their decisions. It means that through developing enduring faith in God will lead to spiritual growth in every other aspect in your life to experience spiritual victory, leading to great joy.
Lea mentions the story of Joseph as an example of developing spiritual maturity through perseverance and the testing of your faith. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers and was brought to Egypt. During that time, Joseph served his masters faithfully, gaining a high position within Potiphar’s household. Potiphar’s wife, however, made advances towards Joseph, to which he fled from her immediately. Potiphar’s wife made false accusations against Joseph which led to him being thrown into prison. Yet, Joseph still worked hard and gained the trust of the guards. Eventually, he was able to have the opportunity to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh’s cupbearer who promised to speak of him when he was released, but the cupbearer forgot Joseph. A few years later, the Pharaoh had a dream, and the cupbearer remembered Joseph. Joseph would interpret the Pharaoh’s dream of an impending famine and the strategy to thrive during the time. Pharaoh would make him his right-hand man. Eventually, he and his brothers would meet again, and, to the surprise of the brothers who expected punishment for their actions in the past, Joseph states in Genesis 50:19-20, “But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Lea states, “Enduring affliction had produced in Joseph an ability to see God’s greater hand in the malicious intentions of his brothers. God had used trials to make Joseph mature and complete.”
Therefore, may we have that perspective shift and have joy when we go through external trials, knowing that we will grow in spiritual maturity and endurance in our faith as we cling to God.
Isaac De Guzman