I read in one of my favorite pastor’s devotional page recently, his take on this verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2) Because it is one that, like many others, bible readers often take out of context, I highly suspect that this verse may be tough for many Christians to accept. It is understandable if some will say “How can I be joyful about the hard trials I have been experiencing lately?” If you read the verse carefully, however, you will note that James did not say we should be joyful when we’re going through trials. What he did say was that we should “consider” these times to be pure joy. The first thing that popped into my mind when I wrote the previous line was this verse: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Clearly, this last verse is a reminder that, although Jesus was in the middle of His painful and agonizing trial, He “considered” it a joy. He knew the glory that would follow shortly thereafter.
Bible verses are best understood when we know these three things: Who wrote it? To whom did he write it, and why? First, the writer: It was James the brother of Jesus. As with all writers, much can be known of him simply by the things he writes and the way he expresses himself. Think about this: In his letter, he never mentioned being the Lord’s brother. Instead, he humbly introduced himself as a “servant” of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I’ve often said from the pulpit, probably to the point of boring our congregation, that although it is a great honor to call ourselves God’s children, it is even greater to be able to say “I am a servant of God.” Secondly, who was he writing to and why? These were fellow Israelites who, because of their new found faith in Christ, had to flee their homelands because of persecution. If any would find it difficult to be joyful when going through hard trials, it was this group of believers. To them originally, and by one of their own, was the advice to consider this affliction a joy.
My better half is known to usually be the first one to recognize that when we, or anyone else we know, are going through a hard trial, it means that a great blessing is on the way. I agree 100 percent. It is like the scarecrow illustration I’ve shared before. Most birds see the scarecrow as the “man” that wants to do them harm, but the “wise birds” know that if the stick man has been put up, it is because there is some mighty good eating down there. If you have been going through a tough stretch lately, I pray you will open your eyes of faith today. As a child of God, expect to see something very good shortly. Therefore, “consider” your trial a pure joy.
God’s word for today: (Romans 8:18) “For I reckon (consider) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”