My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Jame 1:2-4 (NKJV)
Wait a minute... am I reading that right? Did that passage of scripture just use the words "joy" and "trials" in the same sentence? Let's see... "count it all joy...
All joy? All joy? Hmm... all joy as opposed to some joy, I suppose. Count it all joy when...
When? That sort of sounds like we will face trials, doesn't it. They might come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes but it sounds like we will face them.
This is something many Christians do not like to talk about. They like to talk about the joy of the Lord but it seems to me that James is saying that trials or troubles in our lives are what tests our faith. The testing of faith in turn develops patience or endurance which will lead to... perfection; becoming who God desires you to be.
Isn't that what we want? Don't we want to be the men and women God wants us to be? Do we really want anything less than that? I don't know about you but I don't want to settle for anything less!
I love the way it is put in The Message:
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 (MSG)
A sheer gift. Not the tests and challenges themselves but what happens to you when you are in the midst of the fire. While fire can be destructive, we must remember whose hands are holding us in the fire. Like a glass-blower or a smith of silver or gold, God uses the fire not to destroy us but to transform us into something beautiful and amazing... but do do so, we must go through the fire.
May we always remember that God is with us, even in the fire and He is transforming us into something amazing.