Journeying through James, 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2‑4 (NIV)

James begins his epistle is such a bold way‒“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (v. 2). Why?

There’s a story in the book of Daniel where three friends of Daniel are thrown into a fiery furnace. The king did this because they refused to worship him‒they only wanted to worship God. Normally the fire would have consumed them, in fact, the fire was so hot that it killed the king’s servants when they threw Daniel’s friends into it. But while the king watched, these believers stood and walked around in the fire. Then the king saw a fourth person with them, and in his amazement, the king said, “he looks like a son of the gods!” Of course, it was the Son of God, Jesus, who was with them and saved them. The King was amazed when the three believers came out unscathed, and he praised their God. *

The three believers were given the privilege of going through the fire so that God would be glorified. Of all the nations in the world, God chose only one, Judaism, to draw into such a relationship with Himself. He showed His glory and His steadfast love to those who trusted in Him. I wonder how many Gentiles found faith in the God of Jacob as a result of these three men enduring this amazing trial? And isn’t that the point?

What James is saying is two‑fold. One, our problems change when we see that God is working in the midst of them. What James is saying in this passage is: don’t deal with your problems apart from God’s grace. Instead, when difficulties trouble you, remember that Christ is with you in the midst of them. Two, God likes to boast about how much He loves His children. When James says, “the testing your faith produces perseverance,” he is speaking of a good quality that God works in you for a purpose, so that others will see the glory of God through your life.

We all know how fragile glass is. But when workers heat-treat glass, and put it in under great pressure, it becomes four to five times stronger and safer than untreated glass. Safety is the reason they do this; so that the glass won’t break so easily. The book of James is an exceedingly practical epistle. In it, James assures us that God will keep us from breaking under the pressures of life. For us, as God’s children, trials are carefully engineered by God, not to break us, but to make us stronger‒tried and true.

“Then Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.’” Daniel 3:28‑29 (NIV)