James 1:2-4 - Joy in Trials.

James 1:2-4: Joy in Trials.

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come 
your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know 
that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 
4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you 
will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  

James 1:2-4 (MSG) Under pressure, your faith-life is forced into 
the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of 
anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and 
well-developed, not deficient in any way.  


   The Bible is replete with instances of God's wisdom moving 
men and women through the most difficult times to the most wonderful 
ends. Take Abraham, for example. Although he is known in Scripture as 
the "the friend of God," he was capable of some shabby behavior. On 
one occasion he actually compromised his wife's chastity (Gn 
12:10-20), and later, submitting to her pressure, fathered a child by 
Hagar, their maid (Gn 16:1-16). Then, seeking to avoid Sarah's 
hysterical recriminations, he allowed her to drive Hagar away from their 
household (Gn 21:8-21). Clearly, Abraham was not a man of strong 
principle, and there were great flaws in his character. But God in wisdom 
dealt with this man and brought him through some great trials until he 
was changed from a man of the world to a true man of God.  
   The same wisdom that ordered the path Abraham trod orders our 
lives. We should never be taken aback when unexpected and upsetting 
things happen to us. We should recognize that no matter how hard the 
trial, God's power will be there to get us through, and God's wisdom 
will ensure that the trial will be worth more than it costs.  
   I like the way Jim Packer describes what may be God's design 
when He permits us to go through trials: "Perhaps he means to 
strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility, or meekness by 
giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under 
specially difficult situations." "Some extra practice." Some of us, myself 
included, sorely need it.  
   Father, help me grasp this truth once and for all, that Your 
wisdom ensures the trials I go through are worth far more than they 
cost. You are more committed to making me like Jesus than I am myself. 
It hurts sometimes, but deep down I am grateful. [Every Day With 
Jesus Bible with Selwyn Hughes devotional] 


Trials and Troubles Will Come Our Way:

   James doesn't say if trouble comes your way but when it does. 
He assumes that we will have troubles and that it is possible to 
profit from them. We can't really know the depth of our character until 
we see how we react under pressure. It is easy to be kind to others 
when everything is going well, but can you still be kind when others 
are treating you unfairly? James tells us to tum our hardships into 
times of learning.  
   It may help to remember that God wants to make you mature and 
complete, not simply to keep you from all pain. Instead of complaining 
about your struggles, look at them as opportunities for growth. The 
point isn't to pretend to be happy in the face of pain, but to have a 
positive outlook because of the good that troubles can produce in your 
   Thank God for promising to be with you in rough times. Ask 
him to give you wisdom for the problems you face and to give you the 
strength to endure them. Then be patient. God will not abandon you in 
your problems. He will stay close and help you grow. [One Year NLT 

"The Christian must expect to be jostled by trials on the 
Christian way." All kinds of experiences will come to us. There will be 
the test of the sorrows and the disappointments which seek to take 
our faith away. There will be the test of the seductions which seek 
to lure us from the right way. There will be the tests of the 
dangers, the sacrifices, the unpopularity which the Christian way must so 
often involve. But they are not meant to make us fall; they are meant 
to make us soar. They are not meant to defeat us; they are meant to 
be defeated. They are not meant to make us weaker; they are meant 
to make us stronger. Therefore we should not bemoan them; we should 
rejoice in them. The Christian is like the athlete. The heavier the 
course of training he undergoes, the more he is glad, because he knows 
that it is fitting him all the better for victorious effort. As 
Browning said, we must "welcome each rebuff that turns earth's smoothness 
rough," for every hard thing is another step on the upward way. [Barclay 

Rejoice In the Good That God Will Bring Out Of Trials and 

   James is not saying that we should enjoy trials. Rather, he 
is saying that we should be glad for the good effects that trials 
can have on us.  
   A bout of suffering, usually considered a curse, can be a 
blessing. Suffering through trials teaches many things essential to life - 
such as how to have patience and endurance. Living through a trial is 
also the best way to build character.  
   When troubles come your way, welcome them as teachers, 
however unpleasant they may be. Take advantage of your bad circumstances 
by depending on God to get you through hard times. He will not only 
take care of you, but he will also make you a better person through 
it. [The One Year Through the Bible Devotional by Dave Veerman] 

Importance of Free-Will and Choice:

   Most of what happens around you is completely out of your 
control. But you do control two important factors: you control your 
response and you control how much you choose to trust God. Viktor Frankl, 
a Jew, was sent to one of the Nazi death camps of World War II. 
Frankl later wrote that while he was a prisoner, the guards stripped 
him of everything he had. They took his identity, his family, his 
clothes, even his wedding ring. But no one could take from him his 
freedom to choose his response. He wrote, "They offer sufficient proof 
that everything can be taken from a man, but one thing: the last of 
human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of 
circumstances, to choose one's own way. What matters in life is not so much 
what happens to us, but what happens in us. We choose. God uses 
circumstances to change us, grow us, and make us more like Christ. 
   We become better when we choose to respond in faith and 
believe that every circumstance is a tool God will use to make us more 
like Christ. [The Daniel Plan 365-Day Devotional] 

Character and Patience:

It's impossible to develop patience in a hurry. Most of the 
ingredients of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) grow slowly in us 
- although some are quicker than others. But patience, or 
forbearance, is one that by nature can only be cultivated over time and in 
the presence of adversity. James uses farmers and Job as examples - 
farmers for the process of waiting for nature to run its course as the 
land yields its harvest, and Job for enduring through the worst of 
circumstances. Whether we are in the normal patterns and processes of life or 
stretched to our limit in extenuating circumstances, God will teach us to 
wait patiently for his timing. When we do, we will eventually see the 
fulfillment of his work and his promises. [NIV Once A Day Bible re James 

The Greek word here translated patience/perseverance/endurance 
is far too passive and is not simply the ability to bear things; it 
is the ability to turn them to greatness and to glory. The thing 
which amazed the heathen in the centuries of persecution was that the 
martyrs did not die grimly, they died singing. [Barclay Commentary] 

Look Beyond the Gloom to the Glory:

Our trials often accomplish a depth in us that can't be achieved 
any other way. When we can look past the painful process and value 
the lasting result, we experience the joy of knowing God is working 
in us for good, and the end of the story will be well worth the 
trouble it took to get there. [NIV Once A Day Bible] 

If we are able to look beyond the present and see the product 
God intends to produce through our suffering, we will experience 
joy. This perspective is impossible for most men. But those who have 
confidence in God value character above pleasure, and eternity above the 
present moment. [Victor Teachers Commentary] 


   Pebble Beach, on the California coast, has become quite 
famous for the beautiful pebbles found there. The raging white surf 
continually roars, thundering and pounding against the rocks on the shore. 
These stones are trapped in the arms of the merciless waves. They are 
tossed, rolled, rubbed together, and ground against the sharp edges of 
the cliffs. Both day and night, this process of grinding continues 
relentlessly. And what is the result? 
   Tourists from around the world flock there to collect the 
beautiful round stones. They display them in cabinets and use them to 
decorate their homes. Yet a little farther up the coast, just around the 
point of the cliff, is a quiet cove. Protected from the face of the 
ocean, sheltered from the storms, and always in the sun, the sands are 
covered with an abundance of pebbles never sought by the travelers. 
   So why have these stones been left untouched through all the 
years? Simply because they have escaped all the turmoil and the 
grinding of the waves. The quietness and peace have left them as they 
have always been - rough, unpolished, and devoid of beauty - for 
polish is the result of difficulties. 
   Since God knows what niche we are to fill, let us trust Him 
to shape us to it. And since He knows what work we are to do, let 
us trust Him to grind us so we will be properly prepared. 
   O blows that strike! O hurts that pierce 
      This fainting heart of mine!
   What are you but the Master's tools 
      Forming a work Divine?
   Nearly all of God's jewels are crystallized tears. [Streams 
in the Desert by Cowman re Isa. 49:2] 

   One of our nine-year-old grandson's teachers brought duck 
eggs to class so the children could incubate them and see them hatch. 
On the big day, the eggs started to move around a little, and small 
holes appeared where the ducklings were trying to break out. Of course 
the children wanted to help the ducklings break free, but the 
teacher told them that the struggle would actually make the ducklings 
stronger and better able to survive. The teacher and her students stood 
by and patiently watched as each duckling broke free.  
   This lesson is true in life as well. We've all had times when 
we cried out to God, angry that he hadn't intervened and spared us 
some painful episode in our lives. But God knows that it's through 
our struggles that we are strengthened for the battle ahead. 
Sometimes he does rescue us immediately, but other times he stands by, 
patiently watching as we push past obstacles in our paths.  
   Just as that wise teacher knew what was best for the 
ducklings, God knows what is best for us. It might not be what seems 
obvious at first, but it is always what we need. And he is always 
standing by, talking us through to freedom.  
   Thank you, Lord, for seeing what I need in my life and taking 
care of me even when I don't understand what you're doing. I trust 
you. In Jesus' name, Amen. [Celebrate Recovery Daily Devotional by 
John & Johnny Baker] 

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly and one day a small opening 
appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it 
struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to 
stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as 
it could and it could go no farther. The man decided to help the 
butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining tip 
of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a 
swollen body and small shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the 
butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge 
and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in 
time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its 
life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It 
never was able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not 
understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for 
the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of 
forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it 
would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the 
cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God 
allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would 
cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we 
could never fly. brenda.jean.williams@us.pwcglobal.com 


   Come to Me when you are hurting, and I will soothe your pain. 
Come to Me when you are joyful, and I will share your Joy, 
multiplying it many times over. I am All you need, just when you need it. 
Your deepest desires find fulfillment in Me alone.  
   This is the age of self-help. Bookstores abound with books 
about "taking care of number one," making oneself the center of all 
things. The main goal of these methodologies is to become 
self-sufficient and confident. You, however, have been called to take a road 
less traveled: continual dependence on Me. True confidence comes 
from knowing you are complete in My Presence. Everything you need has 
its counterpart in Me. (John 15:5; James 1:4) [Jesus Calling by 
Sarah Young] 

   Welcome challenging times as opportunities to trust Me. You 
have Me beside you and My Spirit within you, so no set of 
circumstances is too much for you to handle. When the path before you is 
dotted with difficulties, beware of measuring your strength against 
those challenges. That calculation is certain to riddle you with 
anxiety. Without Me, you wouldn't make it past the first hurdle!  
   The way to walk through demanding days is to grip My hand 
tightly and stay in close communication with Me. Let your thoughts and 
spoken words be richly flavored with trust and thankfulness. Regardless 
of the day's problems, I can keep you in perfect Peace as you stay 
close to Me. (Jam. 1:2; Phi. 4:13; Isa. 26:3) [Jesus Calling by Sarah 

   You can find joy in the midst of brokenness. One of the 
hardest times to be joyful is when you're dealing with multiple problems 
- seeking solutions but finding none - and then several new 
difficulties beset you. If you focus too much on finding solutions, you will 
sink under the weight of your problems. So it's vital to remember 
that I am present with you in adversity. I am at work in your 
situation, and My matchless wisdom enables Me to bring good out of evil - 
ultimately outsmarting evil with good!  
   The way to find Joy in adversity is to encounter Me. You can 
pray, "Jesus, help me find You in the midst of this mess!" As you 
unplug your emotions from all the problems and plug them into My 
Presence, good things start to happen. Your dark mood grows steadily 
lighter and brighter. Also, as you remain in Me - plugged in to My 
Presence - I enable you to see things from My perspective. You can be 
joyful in the midst of brokenness by staying connected to Me. (Jam. 
1:2, 3; Rom. 11:33; John 15:4) [Jesus Today by Sarah Young] 


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