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 comes immediately after the greeting that James (the brother of Jesus) writes to the churches that were scattered all over the place. I thought today would be an appropriate day to share this particular joy verse with you, because today and tomorrow are the last sessions of the James Bible study I’ve been leading.
Well, more like facilitating. It’s a Beth Moore study, which is supposed to be an 8-week study. But it’s hard to carve out a two hour time block that enough folks have free, so we stretched it to 16 weeks. One week, we do the video, led by Beth. The next week we talk through the homework. It’s been a great study, and I’ve learned a lot during this time.
Whenever I read this verse during the last few weeks, I immediately thought of Romans 5:3-5 –
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
James shares this series: trials -> steadfastness -> perfect & complete, lacking nothing. Paul’s series is: suffering -> endurance -> character -> hope. I see a parallel between them. Trials/suffering, steadfastness/endurance, perfect & complete/character, lacking nothing/hope. Only the last pairing is a little odd. But both Paul and James call on us to find joy in the worst of situations, because through them God is molding us. It doesn’t make it any easier, but we come out on the other side with new hope, lacking nothing. Paul himself talked elsewhere in his letters about being content no matter how much he had, following it with the well-know verse “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Two very different followers of Christ saying the same thing. If that doesn’t point to God’s authoring of the scriptures, I don’t know what does. Praise Jesus that we can trust His Word, and find encouragement in it!