“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2)
Several years ago a Christian writer penned an article entitled, “Don’t waste your cancer.” The upshot was that the trial that cancer brings is not simply to weathered, endured with a stiff upper lip. It is to be welcomed, received with a sense of anticipation.
Our goal in dealing with the trial is not merely to survive it, but to thrive in it with thanksgiving and great expectation of our God accomplishing His purposes that have come to us through the trial.
Though James begins his letter to suffering saints on the note of trials, his epistle is not primarily about trials. It’s about faith. He brings teaching to bear that leads us to examine the faith we profess for authenticity. Is our faith real? Does it come from God as a symptom of new life in Christ or are we being presumptuous, a dangerous prospect before the judgment seat of God? Is our faith self-generated or the product of regeneration?
James also leads us to ask if our faith is growing. Are we getting stronger by its exercise? Is it drawing us closer to God where we find stability against the storms of life and find the sufficiency of grace for the day?
In our Lord’s parable of the soils, the seed sown in rocky ground appeared to have life. It sprang up. But facing tribulation or persecution, it withered. Jesus explained that it did not endure because it was not rooted in the good soil of God’s doing. Had it been it would have endured and brought forth fruit.
James will help us to take stock of our faith by its fruit and help us in the development of fruit that gives assurance to our souls and gives glory to our Father’s workmanship of grace.
“Father, may the trials I face prove my faith and improve it for fruitfulness to Your glory.”