finding Joy in trials
Biblestudy, Growing your faith, The book of James

Finding Joy and Growth Through Trials: Lessons from James 1:2-4

How do you remain joyful in the midst of a trial? Ever met a woman waiting and trying to conceive for a child after years of marriage. Sometimes, it is a deep pain that cannot be quantified. Not to talk of the mind battles and stigma she has to deal with especially in my part of the world. It is interesting to see how James writes to us to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials in our lives. These words follow his greetings to the church and introduce us to the book of James. This week, we will be looking at “Finding Joy and Growth Through Trials: Lessons from James 1:2-4”

Introduction: Embracing Trials with Joy

I remember once when my mom came home from her shop many years ago. Times had been really tough in my family in that season, yet my mom with each passing day, remained hopeful that sales will get better. She returned one night and narrated how one of her creditors sought her out to embarrass her in the open. But she looked the woman calmly in the face and quoted a scripture she had seen in a magazine to her.

That bible verse was Job 14:7“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease.” With a smile on her face and a hope that radiated through her words, she told us what she said to that woman. “I told her that it may look like I am down right now, but even for a tree that has been cut down, there is hope that it will grow again. So, I will not be down forever. I will rise again.” And we all laughed that night while being grateful to God for never putting us to shame.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1:2-4

In his introduction, James uses these words to drive home some points. One of which is that the Christian life is not immune to trials and temptations. And that trials do not come to shake us but to shape us, build our faith, refine our character, grow patience within us and make us more like Christ. James leaves us with a moment to ponder on what our response will look like when trials come our way. Will your faith remain unbroken during life’s trials? Will you embrace trials with joy and calm when they come into your life?

James 1:2-4 Explained

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1:2-4

These verses give us a great perspective about the purpose and benefits that come with enduring trials and challenges in our Christian journey. James encourages us to embrace these challenges and seasons of trials when they come, with a knowledge that these trials will produce patience, endurance, perseverance, maturity, steadfastness and godliness in our lives.

In reality, trials are always associated with pain, doubt and uncertainty. Yet, James wants us to see trials from a different viewpoint when we experience it in our lives. And instead of allowing these trials and challenges to subdue us further into hopelessness or sink us deeper into despair, we can choose to rejoice knowing that God is present in us and walking with us through those challenges.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds

The original Greek word used for the word ‘joy’ is (chara) and it means cheerfulness, gladness, joyfulness. One translation says – be glad when these trails come your way. Many times, we tend to find joy in the events and circumstances of our lives. You tend to be joyful when things are going your way and working out exactly how you want it. But James through these verses points us to a different kind of joy. A joy not dependent on our circumstances, but a joy that resides within us and can keep us calm even in the midst of a storm. And irrespective of the source and severity of the trial, we can still remain joyful, hopeful and full of peace as we go through it.

In our Christian journey, we will face trials as we go through life. There will be hard and difficult days and seasons in your faith walk.  In John 16:33, Jesus tells us – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Today, we are encouraged to embrace those trials with joy and gladness whenever they come. Whether it’s a financial, marital or health trial – you can hold on in faith knowing that God is with you through it all. And not only is your faith being put to the test, you will be refined through those trials and come out of them with greater strength, resilience and godly character. I love how the message translation puts it.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that 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. James 1:2-4 The Message

Under pressure, your faith-life will be forced into the open and will show your true strength, character and hope in God. And he also admonishes us not to try to get out of those trials prematurely. This is because God is using those seasons to purify our hearts, grow our faith, work on our character and draw us nearer to him.

Every trial is working out something in us and through us whether we feel like it or not. Seasons of trials can become seasons of in-depth encounters with the person of Jesus through his word. They can become moments where God teaches you patience through your words and actions. It can just be God calling you deeper into intimacy with him through prayer and his word. It can be what God uses to work on your character so that you may become more Christ-like in your words, actions and attitude and shine your light brightly to the world.

So, let this trial do its work full in you. Be encouraged to embrace this transformation and growth that comes through trials. It is bringing you into a place of completeness and wholeness in Christ as you surrender to his work in your life. Peter echoes something similar to us below.

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”Romans 5:3-4

3 Biblical Characters Who Persevered Through Trials.

1. Joseph faced hatred and rejection from his own brothers and was eventually sold into slavery in a foreign land. He was also wrongly imprisoned because of a false accusation. He persevered through all these events in his life and in the end, he understood and gained a broader perspective of the purpose of God in his entire story.

God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. – Genesis 45:7-8

 2. Job lost everything he had ever built in his life. If it were only material possessions, then it would not have mattered much. But he lost all his children and possessions in one single day. His health was attacked so much that his skin was full of terrible sores.

And then his wife who was his closest family member left asked him to curse God and die. Yet Job remained steadfast in his trust in God as captured in his words when he said – ‘though he slay me, yet will I trust in him’.  Job persevered in faith and still praised God even though he had lost everything.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” – Job 1:21

3. Jeremiah who was called the weeping prophet persevered through persecution for the truth and prophesies of God he spoke. He declared God’s counsel about the downfall of many kingdoms and was persecuted further for his utterances. Yet, those hard times did not stop Jeremiah from praising his God and speaking about his faithfulness as beautifully captured in the book of lamentations.

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24

Finding joy through trials

5 Practical Ways to Find Joy and Growth Through Trials

1. Embracing a Mindset Shift

It is so important to view life’s trials and challenges as an opportunity for growth rather than a stumbling block to our progress. But it all begins with a change in our mindset and belief system. The world often sees trials as painful and will often want to run from these trials. Yet, James speaking to Christians tells us to embrace joyfulness when trials come at you from all sides.

The word of God can renew our thinking and bring it into alignment with the truth of God’s word. There can be a mindset shift in your perspective about trials. It now depends on how you look at those trials. Quit viewing trials as something negative and choose to see them through the lens of God’s word.

It is possible to be joyful and experience spiritual growth when facing trials in your life. You have a new life in Christ and through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in your life, your mind, thoughts and reasoning can be renewed through the word of God. Choose to embrace joy when facing trials in your life today.

2. Practicing Gratitude

When we can give thanks in the midst of a storm, we will always experience the miraculous hand of God in our lives. Jesus gave thanks in the midst of scarcity even when his disciples acknowledged that there was not enough to feed the multitude. Yet, the master gave thanks for the little in his hand and God multiplied the little.

Gratitude will help you shift your focus away from the pain, turmoil and weight of the trial. You can keep a daily gratitude journal to write down things that you are thankful for when walking through a trial. Think of the little blessings and the seemingly insignificant moments of God’s divine intervention and counsel in your life and be grateful.

You can also create a gratitude list where you write down lessons and what you think God is teaching you through that challenge. Someone I know learnt the power of filling your heart with God’s word and putting it before you constantly when she faced a health challenge.

Practice gratitude by taking some moments in your day to pause and thank God for his presence, love and faithfulness in your life. Practicing gratitude during trials helps us to keep our eyes on God and find joy in our trials.

3. Relying on God’s Strength

Walking through a difficult season can be a hard and lonely path. We need all the strength and encouragement to come out of that season whole and victorious. The Holy Spirit is our strengthener and as we lean on him, he infuses us with more of his strength and wisdom.

You can also seek guidance, strength and comfort during trials through a consistent prayer routine. Use scriptures in prayer to remind yourself of the promises of God. Get into a daily habit of reading the word of God. Daily Bible reading helps you to find strength, comfort and reassurance from the word of God during hard times. You can also memorize scriptures that speak hope and faith to your spirit.

All of these spiritual practices – (prayer, bible reading, scripture meditation and memorization) will help you not to rely in your own strength but in God’s strength when facing trials. As you pour out your heart to God in prayer and turn to his word for encouragement, your strength will be renewed.

4. Engaging in Acts of Service

How can you serve others despite having trials in your own life? Paul had a thorn in his flesh but still went about sharing the good news of the gospel with great passion and conviction.

Serving others can provide a sense of joy and purpose in our own lives. I once heard about a woman who was believing God for a child, and how she dedicated part of her time to serve in the children’s church ministry and also help her friends babysit their children.

You can find opportunities to serve and volunteer in your church and community even when facing a trial. Helping others walk through their own struggles, and offering them the comfort and support they need can bring joy into your life. It will not only turn your focus away from your own personal trials, it will bring a new sense of purpose into your life.

5. Reflecting on and Adjusting your Actions

How are you responding in this trial? Have you become bitter, angry and unforgiving? Sometimes the pressure from the trials we face can birth negative reactions from within us.

In fact, you may not even know your own response when faced with a challenge. Sometimes your words may become hurtful, brash and laced with negativity. At other times, your emotions are all over the place leaving you more hurt and broken than before. You may even sometimes begin to doubt the faithfulness of God when you let your thoughts run riot.

Today, seek God’s forgiveness for those times and ask him for strength to walk through your trial with grace and strength. Ask him for courage to hang in there in faith and wisdom to choose your words before you speak. Remember that the trial did not come to destroy you but is an opportunity to grow your faith and have a deeper intimacy with God.

Challenge to Apply James 1:2-4

1. Today, confess and repent of any negative attitude or behaviour that may be hindering the flow of joy in your life.

2. Find and write down five scriptures that you can meditate on and pray with when walking through difficult times in your life.

3. Are you currently facing a trial in your life? What are those lessons you can draw out from this season? Write them in your journal.

4. How do trials lead to growth in our Christian journey? And what is the connection between perseverance and character development?

Prayer

Father, open my eyes to see beyond the trials and challenges happening in my life. Teach me how to endure and persevere through the trials and help me to remain steadfast in faith. My heart and mind are purified in this trial. My character is being refined through this difficulty that I may become more like Christ in my words, thoughts and action. Through this trial, I will be well developed in my faith and grow into maturity. I refuse to be broken in this difficult season. God is with me and walking me through the storm. Amen!

You may also like to read:

Living Out Your Faith: Exploring James 1:22-25

An introduction to the Book of James

Image credit: PIXABAY

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2 Comments

  1. I am finding more and more that the remedy for most things is to practice gratitude and serve others. This is the way we heal. We look outward, not inward. This is such a good reminder of that the God we serve is always looking for ways to remove pride so He can work and ultimately get the glory!

    1. Ufuoma Fijabi says:

      I love those words – This is the way we heal as we show gratitude and serve others. Thank you for reading.

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