Monday, August 22, 2022

Rejoice in Suffering (James 1:2-4)

 James 1:2-4

I have loved the book of James for a long time, and I have often thought of writing about it. As I have prayed for God’s direction, I have felt numerous ideas come to my mind, including writing a devotional book about the book of James, starting a podcast, making videos again, or even preaching. However, I am currently in a season of waiting, so I am not able to do anything big right now. God has told me to wait, so wait I shall. In the meantime, I want to write some more about the Bible passages that have really changed my life. This post is about the second, third, and fourth verses of James, chapter 1.

Verses 2 and 3:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

From the start of James, we are given a command that is incredibly challenging for some of us. We all encounter trials. In fact, Jesus has told us how we are going to be hated, how we will be persecuted, and how we will suffer for His Name. Given that we will inevitably face persecution, we have much to learn from these verses in James.

It would be one thing to simply withstand the trials that we encounter in our lives, but James asks more of us. In keeping with James, we are not to be satisfied with merely surviving trials, we are to rejoice in them. Verse two is followed by verse three (which makes sense), explaining how we can find joy in our suffering, as our suffering produces steadfastness.

What does steadfastness mean, exactly? The word “steadfastness” is translated from the Greek word “ύπομονή” (pronounced, “hypomone”), meaning, “endurance”, “perseverance”, or “patience”. Just as cardio exercises will increase the amount of work we can do before needing to rest, trials increase the amount we can withstand. As we are met with trials, we run to God, and our God is merciful. God may not immediately deliver you from your situation, but He will draw closer to you as you draw closer to Him. When our faith is tested, it is made stronger, and it will allow us to trust God more than ever before. As somebody who can remember being far from God, I can say that, despite the pain that I am still experiencing, I would do it all again if I had to. The strengthening of my faith has radically improved my life, my relationship with my loved ones, my stress management, my love for God, and my love for His Word. I would not be writing this post had I not been through trials. No matter what happens, I know that God is in control, and that the Gospel is being spread, and in that I rejoice.

Verse 4:

“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Verse 4 expands on the purpose of our suffering. Our suffering will produce steadfastness, and that steadfastness will allow us to mature in our faith. Just as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 describes how “the man of God may be complete” by studying the Scripture, James is describing the way we can be prepared for what God has for us when we are put through trials. Trials will very quickly reveal one’s true character, who his friends are, and in whom he should trust. It is easy for us to become stagnant Christians when we are in a comfortable position, but when our comforts disappear, we quickly learn how weak we are. Trials will force us to lean into God, to know His Word in order to survive, and trust in Him to get us to the end of the day.

Before I end this post, I want to explain one of the best parts (in my opinion) of being a Christian:

Atheists will tell people that our suffering is just a fact of life, something that is inevitable, something that happens by chance, and that our suffering does not matter. Christians, on the other hand, can have joy in their suffering, knowing that their suffering will serve a purpose. When we live our lives in accordance with God’s Word, we can rejoice in our suffering, for we know that we will be blessed when we suffer for the Name of Christ. We can rejoice when we are persecuted, we can rejoice when we are alone, we can rejoice when we have lost everything. We can rejoice in all circumstances because our God sees us, He loves us, and He will deliver us. If God does not deliver us in this life, we will be delivered when we depart from it. In life and in death, we rejoice!

- Daniel Teberian

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