"Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials" (James 1:2)—what a preposterous statement! How can that make sense when joy and trials don't fit together? But James is presenting a divine vantage point, not a human one. There are some surprising benefits in suffering which are not readily discerned by most people.
First of all, we need to understand that these verses are not telling us to be happy in our pain, but rather to rejoice in the blessings that accompany suffering. The word consider is an accounting term that means "to evaluate." When we look at hardships from God's perspective and place the proper value on them, we can rejoice in the beneficial outcome, even while experiencing pain. Humanly speaking, trials hurt; but from the Lord's point of view, they help.
The only way to rejoice during trials is to understand what God designed them to accomplish. Regardless of the difficulty's source, we can know that the Lord wants to use it to test our faith and thereby produce endurance and spiritual maturity. In every trial, He has hidden a beautiful and precious character gem, but whether we receive it depends upon our response. Those who really want to be transformed into the image of Christ can rejoice in the many benefits that accompany suffering.
How about you? Does your hunger to know the Lord and be transformed by Him exceed your dread of suffering? None of us want to experience pain, but since it's an unavoidable reality in this fallen world, why not respond in a way that produces eternal benefit? Let's not waste our suffering.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.