So we have established that we should consider suffering and difficulty as an opportunity for JOY! In looking at them as a means through which we reach the top (of that mountain) and receive the glory that awaits us there. The pain being a momentary experience, only a means to an end. But before we can begin to climb this mountain of suffering, or think about the top, we first need to consider how to go about doing so. We need a strategic perspective. A professional approach.
James explains in verse 3 that we should be assured and understand that the trial and proving of our faith bring out endurance (and steadfastness and patience). Now to be assured of something is to really trust that it will happen. And to understand something is to see it from a realistic perspective. In this case the Lord’s. James is assuring his brothers and sisters that when they belong to the Lord, trial is a good thing. And they should see it like that. They should not moan about trial, or try to avoid it, or feel guilty and bad because their lives are not sweet and smooth. Or even feel less loved by God because of the suffering in their lives. On the contrary, the opposite feelings should arise. They should see it as an opportunity to rejoice in the Lord, for He has allowed a time in which they will develop and grow. He has brought on a season of progression. A time in which they can mature in wisdom. One that will require closer dependence on Him and more need for His life and character to be developed within them. I could even go so far as to say that James is encouraging them to see trail as a loving gift from their heavenly Father. One that is meant for their good, and not for evil. But that again is a matter of perspective.
Now I know that many people have faced very real suffering in this world, terrible things that no person should ever experience. And often these are brothers and sisters that love God and follow Him wholeheartedly. And yes the question does beg, “how can a loving God allow suffering?” And as much as that is a very important question, one that many have asked, and one to which I too would love an answer, I do not want us to get into it just yet. For now, I would like us to just look at these scriptures at face value and receive wisdom from them for our lives. Allow the scriptures to speak to us without our own agendas, experiences, or emotions determining the way we read them, and so clouding our ability to receive and believe the truth set out in them. We have to be professional. Approach the scriptures objectively and with a desire to understand them for what they are. Only then will we truly see from the Lord’s perspective and be able to understand suffering correctly.
So, may we, as in the words of James just a little later on in this chapter be as one who looks carefully into the faultless law, the law of liberty that sets you free, and be faithful to it and persevere in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer who obeys, and so be blessed in that life of obedience.
Lord, thank you so much that life from your perspecitive is worth living. That when we see things the way you do, we are able to live in a way that is wise and in a way that works. I trust that during this time you will really shift our perspective closer to your own and help us see, think, and walk in a way that pleases you. May we truly understand trail and be assured of your love for us in the midst of suffering. Amen.