“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
What is your response to the calamities of life? Do you celebrate? Is there excitement? Joy? If you’re like me, your natural response to the various trials of life is not jumping for joy. In many regards, it’s just not normal. For most, even the consideration of joy in the midst of trouble seems ludicrous.
So, why does James offer such a seemingly out of touch view? Was he some sort of fanatic?
Well, he saw something that many do not see clearly. He saw Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus was his earthly brother, but through God’s grace, James began to see who Jesus really was. He saw that Jesus was not just another human man. No, Jesus was God; God in the flesh. Jesus stooped down to this world, willingly laid Himself down to brutally carry the sin of the world upon Himself, paying the punishment for each of our sins, and rising to life–conquering death forever! Jesus is truth, love, and hope. He is the hope of the restoration of all things, including you and me.
James came to the place—the cross—of embracing this. And because of the cross, his entire life trajectory changed. He had a different end destination. He lived invigorated with a new purpose that informed every area of his life. He experienced joy—even in the midst of suffering—because he began seeing the world through a different lens.
It’s not normal to see through this lens, but it is true…once we see Jesus clearly, we cannot help but view the world and its troubles differently. We see the difficulties and trials, but somehow, there is a hope that brightly illuminates the horizon and increasingly draws in our gaze. This hope is Jesus. Once we see Him, we begin to understand the transformation that occurred in James’ life.
We just need to believe—to invest completely our hopes, dreams, and lives in Christ.
James saw Christ. He saw Christ as the piece that connects all things for the hope of restoration. He saw Christ as the answer, the solution to the problem of sin. Therefore, James’ vision for life did not end with suffering or a “woe is me” attitude. He knew maturity and completeness were coming. He knew there was something more. He also understood that an endless state of perseverance never concludes the story. For those who see Christ, perseverance is simply a road to the hope of glory that is to come. Because James recognized this, he could write, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
Do you see clearly?