Speaker: Jerry Cisar
James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers/fellow believers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Verses like this have been used by well meaning, if not compassionate, Christians to make people think they cannot grieve, or have emotions of sadness when facing loss or difficulties. This can lead to everything from guilt and condemnation to confusion or a sort of robotic response to pain.
However, the word for consider is a command, but not concerning how we are to feel. It is a command regarding how we are to think. It is a verb of thought, not emotion. Our culture often gets those two things confused. It is common for someone to ask, “How do you feel about that?” When we really mean, “What are you thinking?” One has far more control over how they think than over how they feel. We are told to consider, to hold an opinion about something. What opinion is it?
We are to consider it pure joy when we are going along in life and run into trials. Now this might seem like a complete absurdity. Trials often bring about grumbling and complaining. For many, our natural inclination is to utter a foul word when we first run into a trial. Why and how are we to consider it pure joy? “ …because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Why is perseverance so important? Why should we gladly embrace trials so that we can get it? What will it do for us that nothing else can?