Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
James 1:2-3, NLT*
If we were to read this aloud, most of us would probably emphasize the word “troubles” as the strong word. I think James begins his letter this way to restore perspective:
Away from troubles and onto opportunity, joy, faith, chance, grow.
He’s not telling his readers anything new. He says they already know it. We do too. But we get focussing on our troubles and we forget.
We want to solve our problems, avoid the pain, steer out of the storm into safe harbour. James reminds us that the trouble, whatever its source, can be an opportunity for God to grow us.
Trouble as a test of faith isn’t about do we pass or fail, do we have faith or not. James is writing to people who believe in Jesus. The test is to determine and reveal the quality and strength of our faith, not to disqualify us but to grow us.
I think of it in terms of spiritual exercise. The more we use our “faith muscles” the stronger they become, and the more coordination and balance we develop.
Father God, here is where we find the joy James talks about: growth and maturity in our faith. When we rely on You more than on ourselves, it draws us nearer to You and lets us experience more of Your strength in our lives. Thank You for Your grace and mercy to us and for Your loving presence that never leaves us.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.