I don’t think I’m the only one who wonders how and why the apostle James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds“ (James 1:2).
I don’t want to debate whether or not it should be pure joy. I deeply believe that all of God’s Word is true and right. Therefore, I know that I should do exactly as James suggested and consider it pure joy.
But since I do believe, I do want to know how it can be pure joy.
Without knowing all the answers, let me give you a few suggestions for James’ meaning.
First, I should consider it pure joy because of the possibilities of closeness with God in times of trial. One of the members of my church told me when she learned she had cancer, “I want this to be a sweet time with Jesus.“ She knew God would be with her during this time. She also knew that this time would be a time of deepening relationship with Him. She and James believed Christ would use this to bring maturity, completion, and growth into her life (James 1:1-4). That is something to be joyful about.
Second, it is pure joy to know that God works all things together for good to those who love him (Romans 8:28, Philippians 1:12-14). This means that God will be present and working on my behalf no matter what.
James had seen in the past how God used difficult times for good in the lives of the church, the kingdom, and individual believers. He knew God would continue to bring about wonderful and blessed results.
Third, James knew that difficulty would issue in strength, growth, and maturity into the lives of believers.
Fourth, James considered it pure joy knowing that believers would become like Jesus, growing in maturity, faith, and hope.
Fifth, I believe James wanted his readers to know something about themselves. He wanted them to know that their faith was real. Nothing shows the genuineness of faith like being faithful in the midst of troubles.
Paul said that trials produce perseverance, perseverance produces proven character, and proven character hope. Then, Paul said that hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:3-5).
What Paul meant was that when we find ourselves persevering, spending time with Christ, and growing in Him we see for ourselves that our faith is genuine. Doing all those things doesn’t prove to God that our faith is real. He already knows our faith. Rather, dealing faithfully with trials proves it to ourselves. I don’t have to tell how much that is worth.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face many kinds of trials.“