God uses adversity to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ. But when we’re facing a trial in our lives, the last thing we want is someone telling us to rejoice! But, James is not telling us to be joyous because of the trial. James assumes that his readers are committed to spiritual growth. When they understand that trials lead to more spiritual growth, he knows they’ll rejoice because of the end result—growth! The testing of our faith produces endurance. Endurance is a maturing factor. The term “perfect” carries with it the idea of maturity. When people are forced to endure hardship, they mature in some fashion.
“Dear brother and sisters, consider it all joy, when troubles come your way. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4
James warns us there is a way to interrupt this maturing process. He instructs his readers to “let endurance have its perfect result.” The implication is that by reacting to adversity incorrectly, we short-circuit the maturing process. I know of several people who are mad at God because of some adversity that has come their way. The tragedy in each case is that they have put themselves on the sidelines spiritually. You may be thinking, That’s ridiculous. How could anyone be so enthusiastic about growing spiritually as to rejoice when confronted with adversity? If that’s your attitude, this passage is for you:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).
James realized it would sound strange to tell people to rejoice in the midst of trials. So, he followed it up by saying, “Hey, if you find that hard to accept, ask the Lord to make it clear to you.” That’s what He means by asking for wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to see things from God’s perspective. Many of us have trouble accepting this connection between adversity and growth. It is hard for us to accept that God is so intent on bringing us to maturity that He’s willing to let us suffer. But, in His economy, adversity is a small price to pay for the benefits of spiritual growth.
As we study the passages such as this one we will find the real issue becomes clear to us. Are we going to take God at His word and begin viewing adversity from His perspective? Are you persevering? Are you enduring? Or, are you resisting? Are you mad at God for what He’s doing? My friends, God wants to use adversity to mature you to the point where your character becomes a mirror image of Christ’s.