2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
So many times have I joked that I will never pray for God to teach me patience because then I will be tested and taught patience, probably not in a way that would be easy. And that is what happens.
In James 3 in the New King James Version, the word at the end of the verse it patience, but other versions, and some comparable definitions, are perseverance or endurance. In context, those words may better descriptors.
Google defines patience as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” It implies some sort of ability to wait things out.
Webster’s 1828 dictionary describes it as “The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from christian submission to the divine will.” The definitions are similar. The difference to me is two words: constitutional fortitude. It implies a strength that comes from the divine will. God’s will. And strength from God cannot be overcome.
The trouble for me, the hard part I mean, is verse 2. “Count it all joy.” When things go hard, during those trials, temptations, and tough times, it’s very hard to not only be thankful you’re getting that, but to be happy that it’s happening. Yet that is exactly what James is telling us to do.
This week was a tough one for me. Not that something life changing or something super crazy happened. It’s just the daily struggles that come. I’d pray against one temptation, and here comes another one. I’ve been angry this week. Hurt my arm, which puts me in pain and it’s easy to be angry in pain. I was so busy looking out for the main temptation, I neglected to be on guard against the easy tactics the enemy uses. And that’s what these are: attacks.
But if God is allowing it, he’s using it. It builds faith in the strength of God. It builds perseverance, endurance, and patience. It’s like a muscle. The more you work it out, the stronger it gets. It’s the sanctification process. The purification process, like a metal being held to the fire to remove the impurities.
But why would I want to be happy that it happens this way? Why would I want to be? What is obvious is that it means God is working on us, making us into the person He created us to be and wills for us to be. And that is incredibly awesome. God created us for a purpose to glorify Him.
So what did I learn this week? Don’t let my trials and pain go to waste. Be happy that the Almighty God, creator of the entire universe is giving me personal attention to mold me into what He wants. It will be hard to take joy in that, but just like trials make my faith stronger, they will make my joy stronger, too.