2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4 NLT
In more literal translations of this passage, the word used for troubles is the word trials. It comes from the same greek root word used for temptations which James writes about later in the chapter (we will go over that Thursday, so stay tuned).
Peirasmos, which means “an experiment, trial or testing”
Depending on the context, it can be used for a positive sense or a negative sense. In the above passage, its clear that trials is the positive use of the word, as he mentions “consider it great joy”.
Trials in this sense relates to what happens to you that is out of your control. Unfortunate events, or “bad luck” you may say. No matter how hard you try, negative circumstances confront you over and over again. James encourages us that these outside factors are an opportunity for great joy.
Opportunity – a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
We are encouraged here that it’s not what happens to us that determines the outcome, but how we respond to it that determines the direction of our lives. When life hits us with trials and hardship, “we can either run from it or learn from it” just as Rafiki told Simba in The Lion King. Sure, we may not be able to change the circumstances to favor us, but if we choose to, we can learn from it, which will lead to great joy in the future.
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
This is amazing news for us when we experience trials from outside sources. When our faith is tested, our endurance has a CHANCE to grow.
I love that phrase, “our endurance has a chance to grow”
It means that regardless of all the negativity around me, theres an opportunity, an open door, a moment caught in time that can change who we are for the good. It’s like that climatic moment in a movie, where the character seems to be surrounded by all these bad guys, there’s no hope for him/her. Your heart is racing, trying to figure out how the main character is going to get out of this one; remember you want them to win, you want them to succeed because they have good intentions, to rescue someone, or bring balance to a community thats falling apart. The flames are all around them, then all of a sudden, a split moment of opportunity arrives to the scene, and you start screaming at screen, “GO GO GO! RUN!!” You watch the character, without hesitation, go for it. They didn’t think twice about it, there was no time to. They just had faith, and went for it.
Do you want to your endurance to grow? It may be one of the most important questions to ask yourself in these moments.
Rocky Balboa put it this way
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that! I’m always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.
Let your endurance grow, in these trials from the outside that come in, know that God will use it as an opportunity for your GREAT joy. Don’t miss the opportunity, go for it, don’t run away!
Have faith, be strong. be encouraged