Count It All Joy – Jan 12

By Ferdinand Haratua

Why does God allow the righteous to suffer? This is a very interesting yet difficult question that believers can ask. James may have given us an answer in the verses we have just read above.

In verse 2, James commands the believers to count it all joy, when we meet trials of all kinds. James is saying here that trials in the lives of believers should be an occasion for rejoicing and not complaining or grumbling. Notice that James does not say a specific kind of trial, but rather trials of all kinds, this includes the kind of trials that you may be facing right now.

Believers “meet” trials – in Greek, the word “meet” here suggests an unwelcome and unanticipated experience. Jesus uses the same term when he tells the story of the good Samaritan, as the man “fell into the hands of” robbers (Luke 10:30). There is no room here for the idea of seeking out trials as a way of “proving” faith to oneself or to others. The trials James assumes here are unexpected and, at least initially, unwelcome.

Why can believers react to trials with joy? We can because we know that God uses trials to perfect our faith and make us stronger Christians. In verse 3, James says that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. God is using trials in our lives to refine our faith! Just like gold that is heated in the fire so that impurities might be refined away in order that it might be pure and valuable.

This kind of testing, says James, will produce steadfastness (or perseverance). Like a muscle that becomes strong when it is being trained with weights, so believers learn to remain faithful to God over the long haul when they face difficulty in life.

However, steadfastness is not the final goal of our testing. James says in verse 4, let steadfastness have its full effect. We must let this steadfastness to do its intended work; that is, in order that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. The word “perfect (Greek: teleios)” could mean “blameless” or “innocent” – it implies a character without defect and describes the person who lives in obedience to God. Having said that, nowhere in the Scripture indicates that believers would reach perfection in this life. Therefore, James’ words “let steadfastness have its full effect” could indicate progress and development, which means we could have translated the word “teleios” as “mature” or “maturity in character”.

Trials of all kinds are good for us. When you are facing a trial or two, remember to rejoice and all the benefits that your perseverance will bring. Count it all joy!

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