A Smile and a Trial
Today we begin a new book of the Bible, the book of James. The “James” who wrote this book is not the disciple, James, the brother of John. Rather, many believe this James was the brother of Jesus. It would be both awesome and awful to grow up as the brother of Jesus. We have no indication that any of Jesus’ siblings were followers of Him until after the resurrection. James becomes a leader in the church in Jerusalem and writes a book that is centered on how faith and action go hand in hand. In James 1 he starts off with a few sentences that remind us of the value of trials and suffering. Here is what he writes: 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. This is a great perspective on the difficult times of life. James says to “count it all joy”. I don’t think that means we have to shout “Hallelujah” when something difficult comes into our life but we can see the difficulty as part of God’s activity in our lives, for which we can be joyful. We are not joyful because of the specific event or action that caused the suffering. Rather, we can be joyful because we know that the pain is part of a God-ordained process to make us complete.
We really can have “joy” in the midst of trials; so long as we understand that the trials are not the end of the journey, but rather a necessary part of life’s process to complete us in our life with Jesus.