"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
Why should we be joyful when we're facing something tough? Well, it helps us to become more steadfast, and that in turn will help to make us "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:4). The trials we experience, no matter how small, help to strengthen our faith and make us better people.
We should be even more joyful when we remember the Lord's words in John 16:33: "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." Christ's resurrection should give us hope and joy that one day we will have eternal life with God. The message of 1 Peter 3-9 basically says that we should rejoice during the hard times in our life because we are working towards the goal of our faith, which is the salvation of our souls. We need to remember that our lives are short and the difficulties we experience here are temporary. The reward for facing our trials correctly will be great in heaven.
But how do we learn to look at our trials with joy? How do we change our attitudes and our perspective to look at the bigger picture in our lives? The key to this is asking God for wisdom:
The notes in my Bible (Catholic Edition NAB) say that wisdom is "a gift that God readily grants to all who ask in faith and that sustains the Christian in times of trial. It is a kind of knowledge or understanding not accesible to the un-believer or those who doubt, which gives the recipient an understanding of the real importance of events. In this way a Christian can deal with adversity with great calm and hope."
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it"
- James 1:5
I love that! Wisdom helps us to understand why the trying events in our life our so important. Prayer can help us to gain wisdom, which will in turn help us see the bigger picture of our lives, which will then enable us to view our trials with joy. That definitely has encouraged me to spend more time praying for wisdom, especially when God is more than willing to give it to anyone who asks for it.
Finally, it is encouraging to remember that no matter what we are going through, God will never, ever let us go through more than we can handle. He will always help us find a way to handle it or a way to get out of it:
"No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it."
- 1 Corinthians 10:13
This blog post was based on the Bible Study James: Pearls for Wise Living by Jeff Cavins. Here are my previous posts: