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Christian Living

Consider It Pure Joy When Faced With Trials?

There are many self-help techniques today that encourage us to stay calm in the middle of life’s trials. Keep calm and carry on has become a popular slogan for difficult and trying circumstances. In the Book of James, however, the author says something quite startling. We are to consider it pure joy, all joy, or nothing but joy when we are faced with trials and tribulations. But how is it possible to find joy through adversity?

Consider It Pure Joy Bible Verse

Picture of an old stone path running through a wooded area with the sun shining through and a distant hillside view and the text from James 1 v2 NRSV. to consider it pure joy when faced with trials.
Consider It Pure Joy When Faced With Trials?

The Book of James is a circular letter to Jewish Christians who had moved away from Jerusalem because of persecution. They had fled and left everything that was familiar behind them to settle in new villages and towns.

James was the leader of the early church in Jerusalem, and some of these scattered believers may have been well known to him. In these extremely difficult circumstances, he wanted to encourage them to develop and mature in their faith through adversity. And so, the letter begins with a different perspective:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds”

James 1:2

Trials And Tribulations of Life

In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the words for trial and temptation have the same root. The words trial, testing, and even tribulation are used interchangeably for an external cause of trouble or suffering.

It is clear, through Scripture, that the trials and tribulations of life are to be expected. As Christians we are not immune to those difficulties that come from living in a fallen world. Jesus himself warned us that in this world, “you will have trouble.”  But we know that He went on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 Bible Gateway)

I don’t know about you, but through life I have known many trials. The ordinary, everyday problems and difficulties that are common to our modern-day life.

I have been made redundant and unemployed for a time. Our home has been burgled and items that we loved were stolen. The family car broke down, just when we needed it most. Our property was damaged by an extreme storm. I once spent all of a family holiday in the local hospital when one of our sons became ill…

I could go on describing some of the trials and tribulations of life that many of you can relate to. These trials can be unexpected, so often undeserved, and not in any way created by us. At first it seems counter-intuitive to consider it pure joy when we are faced with these situations.

Why Should We Consider It Pure Joy When Faced With Trials?

Picture of a woman with her head bowed and hands together sitting at a desk praying. Rext 'Do you need hope in hard times?' and quote from James 1 v 4 on perseverance.
Consider It Pure Joy When Faced With Trials?

We should not be surprised when we are faced with problems and difficulties in our daily lives. Instead, we are encouraged to develop a different perspective. Rather than being overwhelmed by our problems they can become opportunities to develop and grow our faith.

Psychology today offers self-help to be calm through the stresses and strain of life. But Scripture teaches that we can begin to consider it pure joy when we experience trials.

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try and get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 MSG

Hindsight is wonderful – and often we can look back and see what we have learned through our trials. I know from my own experience of unemployment that God provides. I learned to trust in Him when all our plans changed, and the future suddenly seemed uncertain.

When our home was broken into and property stolen, I realized more than ever what was important. The peace and presence of God are our gift for eternity that no-one can steal or take away.

When our car broke down on a dangerous place on the road, what happened next became a story of God’s rescue and ever-present help!

There are so many other answers to prayer, and of faith growing through the experience of God’s faithfulness in our times of need. I would love to hear your testimony of God’s deliverance through life’s difficulties. Feel free to post in the comments so we can encourage each other.

Trials Of Faith

To consider trials and difficulties as nothing but joy, all joy, or pure joy, is a mature perspective. But I don’t think it means some flippant superficial glee at yet another problem! You see this exhortation is not about our feelings but our way of thinking.

Society today has developed the perspective of relying on feelings – because without faith there is no foundation to life. People say things like, ‘I have to be true to myself’, ‘I need to rely on my feelings’, ‘I have to go with my gut instinct’. But our feelings are not reliable, they are fickle, and they can change overnight.

James 1:2-4

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your face produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV

The encouragement here is to, Consider it pure joy, Regard it all as joy, or Count it all joy. Living by the spirit, with the Holy Spirit, enables us to step back and see life through the truth of God’s word. That is the perspective that transforms our lives as we reflect on the promises of God.

We don’t deny our feelings, but we bring them to God in prayer. As we give our panic, fear, anxiety, sense of loss, despair, or frustration to God we become open to receive from Him. This is our place of divine exchange, where our faith is activated to believe in the all-encompassing goodness of God.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer
(Joseph M. Scriven 1855)

The trials of life can fill our vision with our need, or they can bring into focus the abundance of God. The love, joy and peace of the Holy Spirit are not dependant on external circumstances. They are within us and, particularly in our times of need, become our strength reminding us of God’s love. This is the encouragement and endurance that God gives us to persevere through trials.

It is in our moments of need, when we can’t figure things out for ourselves, that we create a space for God to move. As we persevere in faith we come to know by our own experience the faithfulness of God, a deep and everlasting joy…

You might also like to read: 25 Bible Verses of Hope and Encouragement

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