Before studying any passage, it’s important to understand the context.
For those unfamiliar, here’s a quick summary of James.
After the introduction (v1), James jumps right into a command. Count it all joy. He’s teaching the early Christians what their posture should be during trials. We all know that joy does not come naturally when experiencing hard times, but that is exactly what James is asking his readers to do. What he recognizes is that true faith results in leaning into the Holy Spirit to endure. When you live according to the Spirit, you produce fruit, like joy, regardless of what you may encounter.
James is not ignorant of the trials of life. The language used for meeting trials meant that it was inevitable. We, just like everyone else, will have different situations that cause us trouble. Not all of our situations will be the same, but we know that eventually, we will encounter them. It’s important for us to view each hard time with the right perspective.
James goes on to share the result of enduring trials; spiritual maturity. God is using every challenge as an opportunity to refine the believer into His image. We come to Jesus in faith, oftentimes the faith of a mustard seed, and each test serves to build upon the faith that is already present. God does not allow these hard times just to break us, but to build upon our foundational faith. He wants to see us in our most complete spiritually mature form.
The only way out of a trial is through it. What James is illustrating in verses 2-4 is that how we journey through the trials of life exposes the state of where we are spiritually. If our faith is rooted in Jesus Christ and we operate under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we tap into the power that makes it possible to endure, and not just endure while grumbling, but to endure with joy.
Many people feel that their faith is strong and genuine. However, the true test of faith comes in hard times. There is a noticeable difference between those who profess to have faith and those who operate in faith. Think about the last hard season that you endured. Did you operate in faith or faithlessness? Did you endure with all joy or grumbling/sorrow?