James doesn’t beat about the bush; he knows where the recipients of his letter are at, so he goes straight to the point. He reminds them that they are the people of God – the “twelve tribes” – with a long history of hardship: slavery, exodus, division, exile, occupation, scattering … And all the while God is with them. Like God’s people forever, the Christians are hard pressed; they are facing trials; they are in an uncomfortable place.
So, says James, in the face of your trials, “consider it joy.” Why? Not because they enjoy being tested and tried. No one enjoys discomfort and pain. Consider it joy, he says, because God is the God who brings good out of bad, who uses the trials and tribulations of life to grow us. God is the God who cares more about our character than our comfort. God is in the business of maturing and shaping us, pruning and preparing us for the Christian never-ending story. So James reminds us that the walk of faith is one of perseverance, of putting one step in front of the other all the way to the finish line.
Lord God, give us the faith to thank you for the trials that grow our faith. And in our times of trial, remind us of the glorious finish line. Give us a vision of life with you forever that will sustain us in the daily walk of faith.