In our new Bible Study series in our congregation, we’re studying the book of James.
How can James tell us that when we’re tested we need to consider it a joy (James 1:2)?! Well, James is saying nothing different to Jesus himself:
Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great… Matt 5:11-12
Peter Davids says:
Joy is the proper perspective for the test of faith…This joy, however, is not the detachment of the Greek philosopher, but the eschatological joy of those expecting the intervention of God in the end of the age. Suffering is really experienced as such, but it is viewed from the perspective of [salvation-history]. It is this perspective that Jesus gave the church in the Sermon on the Mount. NIGTC, James, 67-68
James’ reasons however are very practical. We feel joy because we know that if we persevere through the trial we will come out of it with increased endurance – we will be more mature as Christians, having proved God’s faithfulness. Our joy sets us up to persevere, and not to give up. We’re not joyful to be suffering, but we are joyful when we realise that as Christians, no suffering can ultimately defeat us, but rather through God’s grace, we come out stronger, better able to stand and to serve.