“My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (perseverance), But let patience have its perfect work (accomplishing the purpose for which God has allowed it), so that you may be perfect (achieving the spiritual growth intended in that trial) and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach (disapproval), and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting. For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”
If you’ve ever been to the ocean especially when the tide is rolling in, the short trip out beyond the breaking waves to calmer waters can be a bit unsettling. The waves seem to crash in one after another relentlessly pounding your body, causing you to lose your balance, and even at times, knocking you down with great force. It is often not the most comfortable part of the beach experience, however, once you’ve reached calmer waters beyond the breaking waves, you’re able to enjoy the buoyancy of your body simply floating gradually up and down atop the incoming tide.
The challenge of the “breakers” can be daunting and tiresome, however, as you keep your eyes on the calmer waters ahead, you press on one calculated step at a time. If a “rogue wave” catches you off guard knocking you down, it can cloud your vision and cause you to inhale a mouthful of bitter salt water. At that point you may doubt if you can stand up or press on by setting your gaze once again on those calmer, more peaceful waters. Our experience with “earthly trials” can be similar to such experiences with the mighty power of the ocean. The “trials” or “Rogue waves” of life can catch us off guard, knocking us down, causing us to doubt our faith, to doubt God’s plans for us, and cloud our vision along with our memory of His promises to us. As James writes, he says not “if you fall into various trials,” but “when you fall into various trials,” to “count it all joy.”
“Count it all joy”; that can be a tough principle to wrap your mind around, much less put into practice. The joy he is speaking of is the all-surpassing peace, hope, and contentment that is only possible through walking in the promises of God and remaining in a close relationship with Christ Jesus, our Lord regardless of our circumstances. We are reminded by James of God’s purposes for such trials in the development of our character – namely patience (perseverance) as we continually set our gaze upon the Lord, even in the most difficult circumstances or even prolonged seasons of life which we may not fully comprehend. God has a purpose and lesson for each trial we encounter, even when we feel defeated, knocked down, or that we’ve failed He is continually working as we seek Him. Essential to this process is that we are “patient” – as James writes, “allowing patience to have its perfect work,” meaning we have persevered in waiting on the Lord as He works on our behalf to teach, train, and grow us through each trial.
Finally, James encourages us to ask God for wisdom when we don’t understand, or when we need clear direction, but warns us to do so without doubting God’s faithfulness. In doubting God, we can easily become “like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” As life may present circumstances which cause us to feel as if we’re drowning in the depths of confusion, sorrow, pain, trials, and hardship – the unshakable joy and perseverance we find only in Christ, can be our anchor, and we can leave the treacherous waters of doubt behind us as we trust in the Lord to lead us to the stillness of a Safe Harbor.
Connecting Faith & Life:
Father, thank You for being with us, ever-present in our times of trials and testing, as You seek to strengthen our faith through perseverance. Help us to see these various seasons or circumstances as opportunities to grow in our relationship with You and to “count it all joy” as You continually work in our lives knowing what is best for us. Give us hearts of humility that call out to You for wisdom and discernment in faith, not doubting the truth and promises of Your word. May we be willing to learn the invaluable lessons You have prepared for us during these times of trial knowing that in them we are growing in ways that are only brought forth through such experiences. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.