James 1:2 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds …
James begins his letter to the worldwide church with an apparent contradiction. He calls Christians to joy in trials. Joy is defined as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” Trials are defined as “a person, thing, or situation that tests a person’s endurance or forbearance.” Here in America, we will do anything to avoid pain or difficulties. Suffering and trials are something to be avoided at all costs, yet James says to consider it pure joy. Thankfully, he does not end that thought with a period but continues.
James 1:3 NIV
… because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Here he connects trials with the testing of our faith. Somehow being tested by the trials of life is good for us. Through trials, our faith has the opportunity to be tested and proven true. We develop perseverance. Perseverance is defined as “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” Through the struggle, something happens in us that makes us stronger. James continues:
James 1:4 NIV
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So it is through this testing that we become “mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” We become stronger the more we endure testing, and we grow.
There is a type of Juniper tree that grows in seemingly impossible situations. They can be seen hanging off of a vertical cliff, face-rooted in rock. They are often small, but they’re strong and very long-lived. How does this tree apply to our life as Christians? Well, this tree is rooted in rock, often unprotected by the whipping winds. Mountain storms rage, and the sun beats down on them, and yet, they endure.
As Christ-followers, our lives mirror that tree. We are rooted in Christ—our rock. We experience trials that seem like they will rip us apart from our bedrock, yet we persevere and are stronger because of them. Normal trees would not be able to endure the harsh climate the Juniper tree thrives in, because they are not rooted in the rock, they have not endured the wind of the mountains. The same is true for those of us who are rooted in Christ. We have strength to persevere through the trials in this world, and through these trials, we develop the strength we would not have under any other circumstances. Our faith is made complete, thus we can consider it joy when we face trials, knowing that through them, we are being made mature and complete.
What trials have you faced in the past? Did they make you a stronger person? What trials are you facing in your life right now? Are you running from them or embracing them as something that is making you a stronger person?
Write down some of the trials of your life right now. Ask yourself how these trials are making your faith stronger. Think back to a time when you endured trials and reflect on how they grew your faith.
21 Days of Prayer: Day 12
Father in Heaven, thank you for loving me. I know I can trust you with all I am, and I am confident in the salvation you have given me. Help me to abide in you, to become more like your Son every day. Show me how to live like him, according to your will, working for your Kingdom in all I do. May my love for you and others be perfected through your love for me.
21 Days of Prayer: Day 13
Heavenly Father, thank you for working in me. I am in awe of the changes you make possible in my heart and how you continue to grow me to love you and others more. I praise you for saving me, for making salvation possible through your Son. Help me to share this gift with others. Teach me to desire what you desire. I trust you to give me the power to do all you ask of me.
21 Days of Prayer: Day 14
Dear Father, I worship you with all my heart and soul. I want to sing your praises from early in the morning when the sun rises until late at night when the day has passed. I am so grateful to be allowed to be your child as your love washes over me again today.
This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.
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