Persevering For Good
“Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
James 1:2-3 (NIV11)
Pure joy? What’s pure joy? A soft serve on a hot day. A 3 year old on a slippery dip. Freewheeling a bike down a gentle hill. Facing trials…? One of these is not like the others..
What does James mean when he writes that we should – following careful reflection – count our trials as pure joy? Firstly, it seems clear that he is talking broadly – trials, “of many kinds,” suggests that to us. Do we know of trials? Of course we do. And for a vast number of us at the moment they are indeed of many kinds.
James isn’t suggesting that we become masochists. We aren’t to relish trials and pain. Somehow retiring our brains so that the hardship becomes fun. Instead he’s suggesting that our careful reflection on the trials we are going through should result in joy because they have a redemptive outcome – perseverance.
If we want to become better at coping with trials we need to be able to outlast them. Perseverance is exactly this character ‘muscle’. We develop it through hanging tough in trials. Paul in writing to the Romans gives an even more expansive view of the redemptive work that God is doing in us when things are tough;
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
(Rom. 5:3–5 NIV11)
God never wastes anything. He’s refining and maturing us all the time – if we’ll only see it. And if God is refining and building my character to be more like His Son Jesus then why wouldn’t I rejoice?
We don’t find joy in pain. We find joy in the work of God to mature us in and through our trails. Joy in trails is the reflection of a mature faith.
Dear Heavenly Father, only you can turn our trails to good ends. We are surrounded by them today Lord. Would you be pleased to be at work on my character today, refining, sanding, removing, building up, and along with all of that please give me the joy of faith that trusts that you waste no hard thing.