There are so many virtues Christians aspire to have. Who doesn’t want to be known as a loving, compassionate, or gracious person? Yet I don’t think there are very many who long to endure. This word brings up images of hardship, because endurance is often how we cope with things we don’t like, such as criticism, conflict, pain, or illness. If we could get through life without ever having to undergo difficulty, we’d rejoice.
Yet James says we are to consider it joy when we encounter trials. He’s not saying that we should be happy about the suffering we face; rather, we should rejoice in what the Lord does in our lives through hardship. All those circumstances we dread are the means God uses to bring us to spiritual maturity, and the only way to get to the good is to endure what seems bad from our perspective.
Think of an athlete who trains for a marathon. He has to hit the streets day after day in all kinds of weather, follow a strict training plan, and push through physical and mental exhaustion. If that was all he ever did, it would be drudgery with no reward, but he does it for the goal set before him.
When our goal is to grow in Christ and become who He wants us to be, we’ll find ourselves willing to endure the pain—because the outcome will be worth it. We can be sure that every situation the Lord allows in our life is intended to develop something we lack spiritually. Knowing that enables us to submit to whatever He chooses for us. And as we see our trials from God’s perspective, we can even rejoice in what He is doing.
Bible in One Year: Job 31-34