About six or seven years ago I broke a hip. Part of the treatment I received involved physiotherapy. At least once during those treatments the therapist said to me: “No pain, no gain.” While she was trying to make light of the discomfort I was experiencing, there was truth in what she said. Had I not gone through some of the exercises and manipulations, my healing might not have been as quick or as complete. James gives similar encouragement to his readers when he writes: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (Jas. 1:1)
James is not encouraging us to be masochists, but he does want us to realize that there are certain benefits to be gained through enduring trials that cannot be gained as effectively – any other way. The point is not to pretend to be happy when we face pain and/or difficulty but to have a positive outlook because of what trials can produce in our lives. (Life Application Study Bible)
There are several things we need to be aware of in regard to trials.
First, we need to realize that trials are to be expected and are a common experience. James said: “ . . . whenever you face trials . . . ,“ not “ . . . if you face trials . . . ” He assumes we will have trials and that it is possible to profit from them. (LASB) Jesus told his followers: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) Furthermore, Paul admonished Timothy that all who were living Godly lives should expect persecution. (2 Tim. 3:12; cf. Matt. 5:10-12; Acts 14:21, 22)
Secondly, we will face many different kinds of hardships. Problems may be physical, emotional, mental, social, or spiritual in nature, to name a few. Some of the specific things that may test our faith are acute or debilitating pain, chronic disease, mental illness, failed marriages, lost friendships, war, terrorism, political unrest, violent crime, poverty, hunger, fear, anxiety, disappointment, frustration, loss of hope, unemployment, death of a loved one, and other trials. These and other such things have caused many to question the existence of a just, loving God.
Detractors may claim, that if God does exist, either He is powerless to prevent such things or He simply doesn’t care. Yet, while God doesn’t will all such things, He does permit them, and, at times He may use them to discipline and/or to punish. God gives us freedom of choice and we must be prepared to accept the consequences of choices, even if we did not personally make them. And when it comes to temptation, God has promised that: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)
As He did when Satan was permitted to test Job, (cf. Job 1:9-12; 2:3-6) God, who knows us better than we do, will limit amount and nature of what confronts us. We also need to remember that “ . . . in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) We need to turn our hardship and difficulties into times of learning. Facing and overcoming trials can help in developing perseverance which is also called patience and steadfastness. (cf. Rom. 2:7; 5:3-5; 8:24, 25; 2 Cor. 6:3-7; 2 Pet. 1:2-9). And last but not least, our trials turn our minds toward heaven (2 Cor. 4:16-18; cf. Rom. 8:18-21). “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those that love Him. (Jas. 1:12)