While some think of the book of James as sort of a pop-physiology book and others as “the wisdom book of the New Testament” in reality James gets to work much quicker than most authors. One verse and eighteen words in he drops this bomb: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).
“Count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations” (KJV). It’s one of those verses we have spun so many ways because it is so completely counter cultural (regardless of the culture you are from). But this one is hard to misunderstand. Be joyful when you face hard times. So, we start paring it down: “Joyful” doesn’t mean “happy.” Yeah, but they are at least next door neighbors. “He says ‘count’ or ‘consider’ - this is something to think about.” OK, I’ve thought about it but it doesn’t change what the verse teaches.
Read it again. Only, read the whole verse. Notice: He gives a why. If you leave out the “why” then you leave out the heart of this passage.
Why, can I consider hardships, challenging days, difficult people, depression and discouragement “joy”? Because of it’s fruit, it’s bottom line, it’s outcome, it’s payoff. “Count it joy” because if all of life was easy we’d never be prepared and at the first time of trouble we’d quit. “Count it joy” because there is fruit in the hardwood of the tree of difficulties.
And that fruit: Endurance. Endurance. It’s the one thing of real significance after we become Christians. Without endurance this Christianity thing is just a stop off on the road to what’s next. Without endurance I’m worse off than when I began (Revelation 3:16).
All that matters in the ultimate is “did you endure”? Not, how hard was it, not what’d they say/do to you, not how great was the pain - - and if you did endure then everything is worth it. One excuse for quitting is just as lame as another - there is no good one, no valid one, none that will get you a pass.
The celebration at the end of all things is only for those who endured. Can I, will I, how do I endure? There are no 3 quick steps - just this - ENDURE. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. If you do you lose everything of true importance. If you don’t any cost is worth it. Endure. You will face trials, temptations, mean people, ugly comments, multiplied frustrations - if you don’t it could only be because satan has already convinced you to give in to him.
I can count trials with joy because I know they are teaching me greater endurance. And it’s all about endurance!