“Count it all joy, my brothers , when you fall into various temptations…” James 1:2
This is the attitude and thought processes of God in Christ. When troubles come, they are not considered problems or negative experiences, but positive. In fact, the attitude is an expression of joy. Joyful thoughts and feelings about the painful events in life, is not the natural human way. We would seek to avoid trouble and do everything in our power to get out of painful situations. The Christian is here encouraged to embrace the sufferings and as they lift their eyes to their father God, to be thankful. Even more to rejoice.
Paul says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11
That is quite a skill and we will not learn it without the work of the Holy Spirit in our minds and souls. This is not a Stoic resignation or a putting up with what I have got. This is a deep trust in God that He does all things well.
These trials are of all kinds – physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual. The Christian is not spared trouble. Trouble does God’s work of sanctification like nothing else. Trouble makes the Christian strong, resilient, persistent, courageous, empathetic. God does not save us to shut us up in an ivory tower. We are out there in the battle field until the day He takes us home. If our faith is going to survive and thrive, it must grow and become strong.
“But because you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory you also may rejoice with exceeding joy. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed; because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”. 1 Peter 4: 13-14
The first trials are very painful because we have not experienced them before. But as we learn to use our spiritual muscles, we get stronger and we use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God with greater accuracy. We also become more and more aware that we are not alone. God is with us always, when we feel His presence and when we don’t. This all builds faith.
As trials get more and bigger, so we respond in greater faith and we begin to see that God’s Word and promises are unflinchingly true. This is how strong Christians are built. Not by going to Bible college, involvement in church, or any “religious” setting, but by the exercise of faith out there in the evil world, where there is no refreshment apart from Christ. This is the Christian’s joy. When the Christian finds out that Christ is enough, it is so powerful and motivating and people will then step out and step up for such a God that builds character and courage.