Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience– James 1:2-3
What a strange command this is, to count (perceive, think) it a joyful thing when difficult and dark trials come your way. Trials, by their very nature, cause pain; why would we be joyful to find ourselves in the middle of such an ordeal?
Thankfully, James gives us the reason for the command so that we can better understand and appreciate it. Know this, James says: this test of your faith is working (present tense) patience in you.
What is so great about patience? A good question, since James seems to think that, if we trade comfort and painlessness for trials and patience, we come out ahead. What makes patience so precious or valuable that it is worth the pain we have to go through in order to get it?
Simply put, patience means contentment with one’s current situation (see verse 4).
Now there are many people who have good health, plenty of money, popularity, and everything else a person might think of as the key to happiness – and yet they are miserable. Why? Because they have not found contentment.
On the other hand, we find men and women in the New Testament who are perfectly happy in the midst of miserable circumstances. Paul and Silas sing in prison, John rejoices in exile on Patmos, the apostles are thrilled to suffer for the sake of Christ.
Why? Because these saints learned to wait on God’s perfect timing, wisdom, and power to accomplish His perfect purposes. This gave them total contentment, a patient and joyful spirit, even in the worst situations.
Are you neck-deep in a trial of your own? Count it a joy to learn contentment in the school of Christ.
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