2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds
Notice in verse 2 it says “whenever” we face trials. It isn’t if, or might, but whenever we face trials. Trials are going to come. Life is hard. Some of us will push back and think that is a real negative way to look at life because Jesus brings joy, and He does, but it is important to get it in the right order. He doesn’t bring joy by the absence of trials, but He brings joy in the midst of trials. It is why verse 2 starts off with “consider it pure joy”.
For some of us when we are in the midst of trials and someone said this to us it would make us want to punch them in the face, but lets be clear that it isn’t teaching us to find joy in the trial as though we should experience smiles and dancing in the midst of pain like a bunch of masochist. It isn’t that we are to take joy after the trial which is what most of us want to do right? However, it teaches us to consider it.
What does it mean to consider? To reflect, to contemplate, to think carefully about “it” about the trial. This reflection will shape our attitude toward the trial and below is a simple way to help us move in that direction:
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything
Our attitude toward trials is to “distinguish between avoiding and persevering”. Most of the times we just want to avoid trials at all costs and if we find ourselves in one we panic to get out of it as quick as possible, however, in verse 3 it teaches us to have a different attitude toward trials.
Perseverance means to stand up under and see that trials will make us stronger. They will strengthen our faith like a muscle. It is Gods way of toughening us up, making our faith stronger, ultimately drawing us into a deeper relationship with Him because our faith is the foundation of our relationship with Jesus. Faith sounds mysterious and ambiguous and it is, but it is concrete as well. Our faith is in the historical work of what Jesus accomplished at the cross, our faith is in the goodness and holiness of God, our faith is what ultimately brings glory to God and is saying over anything else it is Him that we trust. It is in Him that we find our strength. It is by our faith that we are brought near to God, it is by our faith that we accomplish amazing things for Him and it is in the midst of trials that our faith becomes stronger.
Our faith is finding trust and strength in Jesus, but most of us haven’t been taught to find our strength in Jesu but in those things around us. Think about where we find our strength? Our physical health, and if our health is strong we feel strong. Our intellect, and if we are smart we feel strong. Our finances, and if we are wealthy we feel strong. Our social standing, and if we are accepted we feel strong. Our appearances, and if we are attractive we feel strong. It is different for all of us, but we all have those things that we hold on to and if those things are strong we feel strong, almost invincible, however, if those things are removed or weakened through a trial we start to shut down.
However, it is in those moments we are to consider it pure joy (pause) because those strengths we have been hanging on to are an illusion, a façade, and trials are showing us our true strength isn’t in those externals areas but when we are trusting in Jesus.
When I was a little kid I would always hang out with older kids who were sometimes twice my age and they were always with me, always sticking up for me, always defending me, and as a result I would get over confident and would mouth off to other kids to a point where I foolishly began to believe that I carried and embodied the same weight and strength of the older kids to a point where I would pick fights with kids who were twice my age. I am not a big guy now and I was even smaller then and I was picking a fight with a kid twice my age, twice my size and because of the people around me I had the illusion that I was stronger than I really was and sometimes I would just get knocked out.
Sometimes we have done such a good job of finding our strength in those external areas, those illusions, and when trials come it rocks us, we get discouraged, deflated, and we will check out, avoid, deny the trial and just hope it goes away when scripture is wanting to teach us those strengths are illusions we have been hanging on to are an illusion and trial will help us see that Jesus is so much better.