James offers us a different perspective on joy when he writes, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.’ (James 1:2-3) Most of us balk at this notion. How can trials be considered joy, let alone ‘pure joy’? Most of us want to avoid trials. We don’t like difficulties in any shape or form. We don’t feel like welcoming them as friends (as J. B. Phillips puts it) or seeing trials as gifts (except perhaps the kind of gift you can immediately return to the shop to be exchanged for something else!)
James assures us that ‘the testing of your faith produces perseverance’ and goes on to say that perseverance is necessary to make us complete, to bring us to maturity. (James 1:3-4) When we see trials in this light, as a refining process which actually produces something good in us, we are less likely to be resentful of them and more able to find joy even in the hard times. Jesus promised to give us His joy (see John 15:11, 16:24), a promise we can rest on every day of our lives.