“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
One key to joy in suffering lies in how you interpret your suffering (see Day 4). James helps us with that in James 1:3 when he refers to trials as “the testing of your faith.” A trial is anything that causes sorrow, anguish, or pain. And James is showing us that all trials are tests.
Sometimes people will say, “I wonder if this is some sort of test from God?” You don’t have to wonder. All trials are tests. You get a mosquito bite; that’s a test. You get terminal cancer; that’s a test. Your boss yells at you at work; that’s a test. You get in an accident and become a quadriplegic; that’s a test. Kids disobey—test. Cancer—test. You find today’s chapter in this book boring—test.
Tests of what? Your faith.
“… the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:3 emphasis mine)
Every event of hardship in your life, big or small, is designed to test your faith.
So how do you read the test results? Pay attention to your responses to trials. When something doesn’t go your way, do you respond like someone who trusts God and believes his promises? Or like someone who holds the world’s ideas? Does suffering tend to draw you closer to God or push you away from him? True faith runs toward God. Dead faith questions God’s goodness, wisdom, or power and drifts away from God when things go bad.
Think of the last two or three hardships you’ve had—small ones and big ones. What are the test results? Did you respond like someone who trusts God?
What kind of trials do you see on the horizon? What might go wrong today or tomorrow? Take a moment to daydream about what it would look like for those mishaps to drive you closer to God.
“trials” (James 1:2)
The Greek word translated “trials” is peirasmo. It word can either mean suffering or temptation depending on the context. Here, the context is clearly suffering.
Peter uses that same word to teach us some very similar principles about suffering. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6). Trials cause grief or sorrow in your heart. And they burn like fire. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12 emphasis mine).
“the testing of your faith” (James 1:3)
The word for “testing” (Greek dokimion) carries both the concepts of testing and refining—like a furnace that both tests and purifies gold. And it is the sort of test that not only reveals the current strength of your faith but also improves it.
Like James, Peter also equates trials with testing. “…you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith … may be proved genuine” (1 Peter 1:6-7).