My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
Do you count it "all joy" when you fall into various trials? It's not an easy thing to do, is it? It's hard to find joy when your life is falling apart. I speak from experience. I have had my fair share of trials. From a tumour the size of a grapefruit to an incurable disease to mistakes by doctors and a fall down a flight of stairs that left me partially disabled. According to the above verse, I am to count those trials as "all joy." With my five-month stay in the hospital last year that resulted in even more health problems, it seems a bit much to ask. But look at who wrote those words.
James, the brother of Jesus, whose death is debated even to this day, prayed so much on his knees that they became calloused and hard. Some commentaries say he was stoned to death because he refused to deny the Lord. Others say he was beheaded. Either way, he endured his fair share of persecution, as did the rest of the Apostles. Peter was crucified upside down on a cross. The Apostle John was boiled in oil - survived! - and was then exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he would write the book of the Revelation. The Apostle Paul endured prison, snake bites, whippings, beatings, and shipwrecks. Knowing the extreme persecution each new believer faced, James still asked us to count our trials as "all joy." Why? Because they are necessary to grow in our faith. When our faith is tested, we learn patience.
But we need to, as James suggests, let patience have its perfect work. If we only look at our trials and all the bad things that happen to us, our focus gets really distorted. We become depressed when nothing positive happens in our lives. We become discouraged, and if we don't see the real reason for our trials, we might even begin to doubt that God even loves us. Trials, sickness, hardships, call it what you will. If you are enduring them and you don't look at their ultimate purpose in your life, you will not count them as all joy.