Real Joy, Real Pain
Real Pain, Real Joy: James 1:1-4
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:1-4 ESV)
The dispersion was the scattering of God’s people throughout the world. In the Old Testament, the tribes of Israel were scattered by exiles. Now these Jewish Christians were scattered as a result of persecution. By implication in his greeting, James is reminding them that their hope—and our hope—is the same hope held by the faithful Israelites in the exile: the final gathering of the people of God to himself.
10 "Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.' 11 For the LORD has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
(Jeremiah 31:10-11 ESV)
28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28 ESV)
God has visited and redeemed his people in the person of Jesus Christ—the God-man—who is gathering his people to himself.
We receive the blessing of eternal life with God when we deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Jesus—the Resurrected Messiah who is leading us from the sloughs of sin to the glorious presence of the Father.
Joy in the trial is only possible for those who are in Christ. Disciples of Jesus can rejoice knowing the best is yet to come, but apart from a life lived submitted to him as Lord, the worst is yet to come—and that’s a horrifying thought. But the good news is that today Jesus stands ready to save, and we want to talk with you about it! Email to start a conversation that will change your life forever.
Joy in the trial comes from the end result God will produce in us through enduring faith, not the trial itself.
The hurt is very real, but the hurt is not meaningless. It’s producing something glorious.
The trial, certainly ordained by God, tests faith. This testing produces a steadfastness—not in your own ability to overcome trials, but steadfastness in faith. For the trial reveals our weaknesses, requiring us to look in faith to our strength—Jesus Christ.
When steadfastness of faith has had its full effect, we will be perfect, lacking in nothing. Today, we cling to the old, rugged cross together with our King. But one day, in glorified appearance, we will exchange that cross for the crown of life—just as our Lord Jesus did.
Three Challenges for the Trial
- Aim higher than “back to normal.”
In our flesh, we prefer the comfort of sin and idleness to the discomfort of growth in Christlikeness. Let’s aim higher than “back to normal.” Let’s aim to be more like Christ.
- Endure in faith—for we cannot tackle the trial ourselves.
We are not wise enough. We are too entangled in the things of this world. We have sin that we are powerless to destroy by ourselves. We need Jesus.
- Rejoice in the trial.
This is not some shallow platitude. James is highlighting our real and deeply rooted hope. In this hope, we rejoice, for God is with us in the trial, and he is doing something far greater in us than we could ever think or hope.
Where are you right now in the trial? Are you angry? Are you suppressing the reality of it? Are you depressed? Are you bargaining with God rather than trusting him in faith?
Faith in Christ is the solution, but you are never meant to be isolated in the trial. We need one another. If you are struggling in the midst of a trial, we’d love to walk through it with you. Email to begin this journey with us.
An in-depth study of the book of James.