How we process trials

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds
- James 1:2

The theologian DA Carson once said: “All you have to do is live long enough, and you will suffer.” Trials are coming. What will we do when they arrive?

This week we’re kicking off a new study from the book of James: Street Level Faith. The book of James was written by the Apostle James, a leader in the early church and (according to tradition) the brother of Jesus. He wrote to Christians around the world who were enduring persecution and trying to figure out how to follow Jesus in difficult circumstances.

And his first direction to them, in the face of their trials, pointed them toward joy. Not just joy, but “pure joy.” As we’ll come to see in the next several weeks, James doesn’t allow for very much wiggle room and he’s not big on nuance. “When you face trials,” he says, “consider it pure joy.”

Trials remain trials. Pain remains pain. Suffering remains suffering. But we aren’t helpless.

James empowers us to own our own response to our own trials. We don’t have to passively receive trials and let them dictate the shape of our souls. We have permission from James and power from the Holy Spirit to choose how we will process the trials that life throws at us.

Choosing to consider our trials as pure joy requires us to shift our perspective (as we’ll see throughout this week). And the benefits are enormous.

Christians who have taken this path emerge radiant with faith and with strength of spirit, even on the other side of very difficult days.

Take a moment today to take stock. How do you process trials? What do you think of your trials? When have you experienced joy in the midst of trials?

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