"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
(James 1:2-4, ESV)
When we first read these verses, our natural response is probably a question. “Why am I to look at trials with joy?” Trials are not fun, they’re hard and painful.
Consider with me for a moment the beautiful diamond. This precious gem is produced as a result of undergoing extreme temperature and pressure. A solid form of pure carbon has its atoms arranged to form a crystal. This crystal, upon prolonged exposure to the trials of temperature and pressure, strengthens and forces out any other minerals that are contained within. Those impurities are known to gemologists as “inclusions.” The more time under pressure the stone endures, the stronger it becomes, the fewer inclusions there are, and the greater the clarity of the gem that remains.
The same is true of us. David Mathis writes, “Faith does not flourish when it lies untested. It atrophies when it goes unexercised. And eventually it dies. So, when God loves us with his saving love, and gives us saving faith, he commits, because he cares for us, to inject our lives with various trials to train, grow, sweeten, strengthen, and mature what matters most in us.”
This is not to say the trial itself is joy-filled, rather that we can rejoice because we trust the sovereignty and goodness of God, and we know the trial is helping us to grow. Through this trust, facing these struggles will purify our faith, causing us to become more determined to follow-Christ (steadfastness).
Consider again the diamond, even after it undergoes the extreme temperatures and pressures, it must be mined, shaped and polished, in order for its true beauty to be seen. As we mature through the pain of trials with joy, we experience this shaping and polishing in our life, which allows the incredible beauty of Christlikeness to shine.
Maybe today you’re in the midst of a trial… Count it joy knowing this is working to produce in you a greater faith and Christlikeness that will shine like diamonds.