I’m back in youth ministry and so I’m teaching through James. It’s been good to get back to James as it was one of the first books I preached all the way through back in the JH Pastor days. (Can anyone forget Bob the Bass?) James 1:2-4 contains a command that can only be obeyed by one who has met the Lord Jesus Christ, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Not if you encounter various trials…when.
James is being frank with his readers. A believer in Jesus is going to experience a myriad of different trials in this life. They know this. He’s writing to Jews who have lost everything because they repented of their sins and followed Christ. And what you need to understand is that those trials are given to you by a sovereign God whose purpose it is to make you more and more like His son Jesus Christ. If you’re a Christian that’s a good thing right? So consider it all joy!
Some would prefer that we hide these kinds of exhortations from those who are new to the faith or may be considering Christ for the first time. Teenagers especially are often shielded from the fact that while the way of the cross and glorious it is also fraught with suffering. Jesus Himself said that the disciple is not above the master. If they persecuted Christ then they’ll persecute His disciples. But by hiding the fact that the bible promises trials to those who follow Christ we also fail to point out that trials are actually a good thing. In suffering we are disciplined by our heavenly Father who loves us. In trials we find our faith being strengthened. Paul prayed that he might know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Phil. 3:10). In Acts 5:40-41 the apostles who have just been flogged for preaching Jesus Christ left “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”
So let’s be honest. As a Christian you will experience trials in this life and that’s a good thing. How are you going to respond and why?