Jas 1:2-3 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
This is kind of a bogus question. Jas 1:2 tends to be a poorly understood passage because of the word translated “when.” Many people somehow think you should enjoy the experience of a trial or temptation. That is not what James is saying. It is more appropriate to think of the word “when” as referring to the result of the trial, not necessarily the experience as it is happening. The trial isn’t the joyful part; rather the joy is found in the result of the trail.
I know people who have a lot of trouble with God because they think they’re supposed to be happy when they get hit in the face with five flavors of dung slung by five different people. Some read this and suppose God gave them the hard way to go and they’re supposed to be happy anyway. Nonsense. God has a magnificent way of taking manure and turning it into something beautiful. Satan destroys, but God creates. It takes fertilizer to grow a flower. If you only had sunshine, would the crops ever yield? You don’t have to like the rain, you don’t have to like the fertilizer, and you don’t have to like to the trials and temptations. God uses (but does not necessarily create) the problems we face to make us grow in our faith and grow closer to Him. If we react as we’re instructed in this passage we will grow in our perseverance and we will one day lay hold of the prize (1 Cor 9:24).
Rev 3:18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
Mal 3:2-3 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.
Certainly being the silver or gold going through the refinement isn’t a lot of fun. It’s the high quality product at the end of the process in which God is interested (thus we should be interested). God seeks perfection. We aren’t perfect. When we love God, letting Him refine us and accepting His refining process, we become purified. His grace is the staple of this and the atoning blood of Jesus provides the opportunity for this grace.
This post is an excerpt from my book Ask James one.