Trials are a part of every Christian’s life. These trials are meant to try us and make us like gold (Job 23:10 “But he knoweth the way that I take: [when] he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”)
James 1 teaches us some important aspects of these trials. Verse 2 says that we are to “count it all joy when we fall into divers (various) temptations (trial or proving)”. Note that he doesn’t say “if” but rather “when” –so get ready, the trials are coming. He also says that we are to count it all joy. I don’t know about you, but I have found it hard to be joyful about a trial coming into my life. I have learned though to be thankful, and it is through that mind of thankfulness that I have had my sweetest prayer times in the midst of a deep trial.
The purpose of these trials can be found in verses 3-4 “Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” The trials that come into our lives work patience (steadfastness, constancy, and endurance) that we may be perfect or spiritually mature.
I mentioned that I have been through some very deep trials in my own life — We went through 5 heartbreaking years of infertility, I miscarried two babies within 8 months, I was told that I had cancer (a misdiagnosis). During those dark days, I found joy and comfort in knowing that God was taking the time to work in my life to bring me closer to Him and to prove me. I still can’t comprehend why the God of this universe would take the time to care that I was complete.
Next, James teaches us how God enables us to properly handle our trials. It is through the venue of prayer. “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. “ We are to pray during our trials that God will give us wisdom. Matthew Henry says that “We should not pray so much for the removal of an affliction as for wisdom to make a right use of it.”
I had always thought that James was making two separate thoughts in this passage, but as I studied it I began to see that the two were connected. God has said that He will give wisdom liberally when we ask for it, and He will give it without reproach—we don’t have to be ashamed to ask for wisdom. (vs. 5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”) God does have one requirement in order for us to obtain wisdom. We must “ask in faith, nothing wavering” or without doubting that He will give it.
Isn’t it wonderful that God cares enough about us to work in our lives through trials, and then to offer wisdom so that we could benefit from the trials so that we might be perfected for His glory. God is good!