St. James today encourages us to consider it all joy when we experience trial. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the emotion I usually find in frustrating or fearful circumstances. And considering that the people to whom James was writing were probably being persecuted, they probably weren’t overjoyed at their trials either. But the spiritual principle is that when one’s faith is tested, ones learns perseverance, and learns to trust in God.
But that presupposes that we will remain faithful in the midst of trial. The minute we stop looking to our Lord for help in times of difficulty, perseverance and trust in God go right down the tubes. The Pharisees in the Gospel had not yet learned faithfulness. They kept their eyes on the minutiae of the Law instead of on God, and so they lost sight of faith and everything that was of true importance. They were fearful; they wanted a sign, but they would never get a sign because they were always looking in places other than God.
Faithfulness is a difficult thing. When we are tested, it’s so easy to want to throw in the towel and leave behind everything we believe in. I have been there myself, but thankfully I still had prayer and people praying for me. I think we’re all in that place at some time or another in our lives. It’s easy to be faithful when there are no trials, but faith in times of trial produces the perseverance and lively faith that gets us through life. And we definitely should consider that all joy.