Verse of the Day Devotion: James 1:2
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, and sisters, when you encounter various trials.” – James 1:2
James says something here that seems to run contrary to the way most people think. Count it all joy when we experience trials. This does not come naturally. It is much easier to be frustrated and downcast. Why do we have to go through these trials? Why doesn’t He just deliver me and allow me to be comfortable? However, it is important to see that the joy is not because we are suffering. The Greek text differs from the English translation in that James suddenly commands the messianic Jewish community to consider their condition, going through trials, as an occasion for joy.
It is Important we see this ‘joy, not as a weird way to bring ourselves through trials, but as an act of faith. Instead of looking at the trial, James is instead encouraging them to look through the trial to its potential outcome. Let us look at some examples of what James is telling his listeners.
Paul considered his trial before King Agrippa an opportunity for defense, preaching, and potential release. “Regarding all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate that I am about to make my defense before you today, especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.” Acts 26:2-3.
Paul and Timothy urged believers to consider others better than themselves as Christ did not consider equality something to be grasped. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bondservant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8.
Paul considered his former glory an actual loss “But whatever things were gain to me, these things I have counted as loss because of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them mere rubbish, so that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7-8.
Abraham considered God faithful and powerful enough to enable Sarah to conceive. “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” Hebrews 11:11.
Moses considered suffering for Christ more valuable than the treasures of Egypt. “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.” Hebrews 11:24-26.
The author of 2 Peter wanted his readers to consider the patience of the Lord as salvation. “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found spotless and blameless by Him, at peace, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you.” 2 Peter 3:14-15.
Just as the believers in the above examples reacted to trials, James urges the messianic Jewish community to consider their trials an occasion for joy as they look through their trials to their glorious, sanctifying result. And we should do the same. We should not focus on our trials but look beyond them to the rewards we have waiting for us because of our faith in Christ. God would not allow these trials to come to us if He did not have a good purpose for it. And if we persevere to the end, we have a wonderful reward. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.