“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
Trials are a certainty in life. No-one will make it through life without encountering some form of hardship along the way. And James calls us to count them as joy. That goes against everything the world tells us. Our flesh tells us we should flee from trials. The world encourages us to live our best life now, to live the comfortable life, to chase the dream and avoid difficulties or hardships. So much of our society is designed to maximise convenience and reduce effort or striving. A few swipes and we can get food delivered without having to cook, any movie ready to watch at the click of the button, a taxi to pick us up instantly when we load up the app – culture tells us to make things easy for us. But God has it designed that through trials and hardships we become strengthened. Trials result is testing of our faith, and testing produces steadfastness, which leaves us perfect and complete.
To be steadfast is to literally be firmly fixed in place – deeply rooted, not at the mercy of the winds and storms of life. It brings to mind the parable Jesus told of the wise and foolish builder in Matthew 7. The foolish builder took the easy option, building on sand. The wise builder put in more work digging deep foundations on a rock. That would have been a trial digging into firm rock. But when the flood came it was his house that stood firm. Trials may feel unpleasant in the moment, but they build our faith and anchor our trust in God. We should face trials with an attitude of joy, not questioning why God is letting us face them but asking what He wants to teach us through them, remembering that he causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).