We can’t avoid the various troubles in life, but we can accept that God has purposed them for our good. We’re to view them as opportunities for rejoicing in the work He’s doing in our lives—challenging us so He can change us.
But how do we keep the trials designed for our good from crushing us? When we look more closely at James’s words, we see four important terms woven into the fabric of this tough passage: consider, know, ask, and endure. These words will help us answer the question of how to handle troubles.
In the original Greek text, verse 2 begins with, “all joy consider.” That’s James’s emphasis: “Consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
Joy refers to a deep-seated, calm, conscious resolve of hope in the midst of circumstances that would normally push people toward despair. This can only come when you consider that God has a reason for allowing these troubles in your life.
Next, James says, “For you know that when your faith is tested . . .” (1:3, emphasis added). What do you know? You know that this lingering trouble is deepening your faith, increasing your endurance, enhancing your character, sharpening your discernment, building your maturity (see verse 4). When you know this, you’re better able to consider your difficulties with a positive spirit.
The third word: ask. James continues, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God” (1:5, emphasis added). Our triune God is not a stingy guide rationing out wisdom one precious drop at a time. He wants to lavish it upon us at those times we need it most.
All we have to do is ask.
I would define the wisdom of James 1:5 as “looking at life from God’s point of view.” When you ask for wisdom with an honest and sincere heart, you can trust God to answer.
James uses one more word to help us rise above our troubles: endure.
“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 1:3-4).
In Colossians 1:11, Paul petitions God on behalf of his readers, “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.”
We’re not on our own. We endure because He gives us grace to endure.
Consider . . . Know . . . Ask . . . Endure
These four words have the power to change everything.
We consider that God has a purpose in our troubles.
We know He’s cultivating character and motivating maturity.
We ask for wisdom to see beneath the surface of the trials.
We endure through the strength that comes from Him.
That’s how we handle troubles.