Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. –James 1:2, 3
The other morning after I had finished my usual 20-30 minutes of calisthenics, I decided to go a few rounds with the punching bag hanging from the ceiling of my son’s room in the basement, something I haven’t done before. I danced around that bag and really flew into it – for about a minute. My wrists and forearms began to ache so badly that for a moment there I thought I might have done myself an injury. My son later assured me that this is common and that I have to work my way up to a longer session. He also chastised me for wearing my thin exercise gloves and not the thicker training gloves designed for the punching bag. I could only stand there humbled and corrected with my aching wrists and forearms.
When I consider the effects of pounding on that punching bag I am reminded of what the Scripture says about facing trials and the testing of our faith. This process of trusting God and standing firm through the difficulties of life can be painful; to the point that the experience can leave us aching all over. However, the Word of God says to count this all joy. Count it all joy? How is that possible? I mean, here we are getting hammered with trials and temptations, and we are standing firm as the Lord has instructed us, and we sometimes get discouraged from the pain of it all. And yet we are commanded to count it all joy. The joyful part only makes sense in light of true and unquestioning faith in Jesus Christ. When our faith is tested we develop perseverance. This passage in the book of James also reminds us that as we grow in perseverance we also grow in maturity.
Do you see how this works? If we can learn to trust the Lord through the difficulties and trials we face, we will not be defeated by them, but rather we will be made stronger though them. A stronger and more mature follower of Christ is also a more peaceful and yes, a more joyful person. We learn to not waste a lot of precious time fretting over what has happened, what may happen, or what may not happen, but instead we walk forward in confident and victorious faith. Such an attitude keeps us looking up to the Lord with joy in our hearts as opposed to becoming bitter or giving up altogether.
What sorts of trials and struggles are you facing right now? Remember that God is faithful and He has promised to help us through the worst problems we will ever face. When we are troubled, we find comfort in knowing that there is victory to be found in Jesus Christ.
Do not fret, do not worry, but instead look to Jesus.