walk in the word
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. —James 1:2-4
One of the great pains of life is that things are not always the way we want. But get this: God makes sure we have everything we need. James 1:2-4 tells us God even gives us trials—because He knows they are (in ways we don’t always understand) exactly what we need.
That’s why James writes, “Count it all joy . . . when you meet trials of various kinds . . . And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (italics added).
Now, the “count it all joy” part is a stretch for many of us, because we immediately think God is telling us to be giddy in our difficulties or happy when the hammer of hardship falls on our lives. Joy is much deeper than any superficial emotional response. Joy is the settled awareness that God still has everything under control. Joy can be just as real whether we have tears rolling down our cheeks or a smile on our face.
When the Scripture says God is working everything out for the ultimate good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), that doesn’t mean we’re going to have everything we want. But James 1:4 tells us our joyful steadfastness (our endurance) leads to us being “perfect,” “complete,” and “lacking in nothing.” Consider these great terms that describe what God wants to give us.
Perfect—we will have all the character we need to honor God. The original term means “mature.” The process of joyful endurance produces followers of Jesus who are spiritually grown up.
Complete—we will have all the relationships we need to nourish and sustain us. This doesn’t mean “arrival,” but having all the pieces in place for continued growth.
Lacking in nothing—we will miss out on nothing that would give us 100 percent satisfaction in God.
If you are perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, then you have everything you need to do everything God wants you to do. You can show the world the superiority of the life lived in God. You become God’s exhibit—it’s not about you, it’s about what God is doing in and through you to His glory. Those who know you best will still recognize that you are fully human and capable of various shortcomings and sins, but they will also witness the real work God is doing in your life. And they will note your joy.
Every trial you face is allowed by God for your ultimate good. In part, that good includes your ability to discern the difference between needs and wants. Today if you endure, God promises to give you what you need. Ask God for joy no matter what you are facing. In a little while, in heaven, He promises to give you everything you could ever need and more.
Where is God is using hardship to shape your life?
In the past three years, what significant steps have you taken forward in your level of maturity?
Lord, I know I don’t thank You enough for the difficulties You allow in my life. And I admit it would be difficult for me to ask You for more! But I know the hardest moments of life have led to my deepest longings for You, my clearest understanding of Your ways, and my most significant steps forward in growth. Thank You for Your amazing patience in waiting for my thanks to flow after the fact more often than during the trial. Please continue to teach me that what I need for tomorrow and the rest of life is what You are providing through hardship today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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