Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1, verses 2 and 3.
So, here, in verse 3, is the thought that completes verse 2. James doesn’t want us just to suffer so we can be happy about it: he wants it to build character.
James is Paul is you is me. If you know your Romans, you know of Romans 5 (my wife’s favorite part of Scripture) where the apostle Paul tells us how suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, which never disappoints us because it’s not the wishing well hope we think it is. Jesus’ hope is a promise and a guarantee. Paul uses Romans 5 to remind us that, through the trials of life, suffering teaches us to persevere, which is a stepping stone to living out Jesus’ guarantee of living forever.
James and Paul were contemporaries, early fathers of the church. James ministered to Jews and new followers of The Way around Jerusalem; Paul went everywhere else. Their letters were written at approximately the same time in history even as they were written many physical miles apart (and to different audiences). Knowing all that, do you find it as amazing as I do that their verses segue so beautifully off each other? Suffering – the testing of our faith – produces perseverance. Perseverance – learning endurance in our faith, in our lives – leads to hope. Jesus’ hope; the sure-fire guarantee not the “I hope gas falls to $2.00 a gallon” type of winsome wish.
Just like Paul, James tells us to rejoice in our sufferings because rejoicing in them is what Jesus does. Don’t be down about things: get up and rejoice! In the middle of real suffering that you have, look at how God still blesses you. As you’re suffering, consider all the ways the Lord builds you up, strengthens you, helps you to overcome. As you endure and overcome, think about how Jesus did the same and did so to the glory of the Father. Be thankful for all God teaches us in this mixed-up thing we make of life. Most of all, rejoice because rejoicing brings smiles, contentment, satisfaction, and peace.
Consider our sufferings to be pure joy because a first-fruit of suffering for Jesus is Jesus’ peace. No Jesus, no peace; know Jesus, know peace. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but is the fruit of victory. Jesus’ victory leads to the only real peace there is in this crazy world. James tells us to rejoice in our suffering so that Jesus’ peace may reign.
Lord of peace, thank you for the trials and suffering in my life today. Thank you for building me up, for sustaining me, for correcting and teaching me. Thank you for paying all of my debt, and for Your peace. Reign in my life today.
Are you suffering?
In what ways can you submit your suffering to Jesus as thanks to Him?
How do you feel peace?