“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy” (James 1:2)
Consider trials nothing but joy?
Either the writer has a different understanding of trials or a different understanding of joy than the typical American.
Joy doesn’t mean only a happy feeling. It certainly can include feeling happy but it means so much more. Joy has to do with a change in reality and understanding. The key word in our verse is “consider.” The Greek word is hegeomai. The word literally means “to lead the way,” “to think,” “to consider.” What this verb means is to lead the way by thinking this way; or, in other words, consider.
“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, lead the way by thinking and considering trials as nothing but joy.”
- Even though trials don’t feel good, even though you don’t feel like it, even though it hurts, even though it is difficult…lead the way by thinking and considering trials as nothing but joy.
- This isn’t about what one feels. This is about a deliberate act and a decision. It’s about choosing to see trials as joy.
James tells us in the verses that follow the reason why we are to consider trials as nothing but joy. “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, lead the way by thinking and considering trials as nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Consider trials as nothing but joy because of the fruit suffering and overcoming trials produces: maturity, being complete, lacking in nothing.
This is not joy because there is no suffering and trials. This is a joy in spite of the suffering and trials because of what God is doing in us through them.
God is not asking us to enjoy or feel good when enduring trials. God is asking us to choose to be joyful because we know that God is at work in us to mature and perfect us so that we are lacking in nothing. That is good work. That’s worth rejoicing about!