The joy of trials

James 1:2-11

We all know the saying: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You may have heard that in a country song or know it comes from a 19th century philosopher. How do your life experiences affirm or challenge that notion?

Some believe the opposite is true. That what doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger. It actually makes you weaker. The effect is you are more prone to suffer later in the same way. What you endured leaves struggle in its aftermath. If you are stronger afterwards, it wasn’t the difficulty that strengthened you.

Now, that could all be semantics. But it does remind us that we want to make sense of life’s hardships. We may even need to put meaning to what we go through.

The book of James helps us, offering a different perspective. According to James, what doesn’t kill doesn’t make you stronger. It doesn’t make you weaker. But it just might make you whole.

This is an interesting thought from Jesus’ brother. James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem. The church there suffered with James. Not because of anything related to his leadership ability. They suffered together. Natural disaster and persecution were enough.

James pastored with care and the words of Jesus.

The letter will address what it means to live by those words. And James begins by addressing the certainty of trials. Instead of turning away from God or even blaming the Lord, consider the opportunity to face trials a joy. Now, that kind of perspective doesn’t come natural to most of us. It may sound unfathomable. Recognize, though, it stems from a trust in God’s goodness.

The joy is not connected to the trial itself. We aren’t happy to suffer. Rather, letting endurance complete its work, we trust there is wholeness on the other side (James 1:4). We may be stronger or weaker as a result. That may depend on how bad our circumstance was or any number of other factors. Also, stronger and weaker can be subjective. But we can trust God brings wholeness, completeness. That is God’s peace for us.

We often speak of ourselves as broken people. As true as that may be, our joy is God works to make us whole again. Even through our trials.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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