The first chapter of James deals with trials and temptations (v. 2, 12, 13). This resonates with everyone because no one is immune from either of these things. They were a part of Jesus’ life, and they are a part of ours. I’d like to build on this by talking about some tools in the text for dealing with trials and temptations.

The first tool is the ability to count. In the ESV, verse 2 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” James doesn’t say trials are a joy (he knows they are not), but we can look at them as a joy because we see beyond them. 

How do we do that? We learn how to “count” — to see it from another perspective — a faith perspective. Our faith enables us to see another dimension. It’s like looking at a rainbow. From a human perspective, it’s a beautiful thing but no more — just refraction of light by the sun’s rays. By faith, we understand it is part of a promise from God to never again destroy the earth with water. The ability to count is an important tool to have.

The wisdom to navigate challenging situations is another important tool. When James brings up asking God for wisdom in v. 5, he’s not speaking about wisdom in general (though we all need more of that), but wisdom in dealing with life’s trials — those sticky situations we’re in and we don’t know how to get out of. At such times, that’s what we need more than anything. This should be something that informs our prayer lives.

A rootedness in God rather than circumstances. A major move toward maturity occurs when we go from trying to micromanage circumstances to our satisfaction to giving them to God and simply focusing on how we can be useful to Him and to others. This is what James wants for his readers because it’s what God wants for His children. We learn to let go and let God. 

Yet this is not a passive thing where we simply resign ourselves to whatever is going to happen. Resignation isn’t the same thing as faith. Faith is where we are actively involved. Trials come, we count them as joy and with the wisdom God provides, we work hard to use them to glorify God and serve others. There’s nothing passive about that. 

This rootedness is what we see in Jesus. He was never the victim of circumstances — He was human, so He was hurt by them — but He was never the victim because He understood His life was in the hands of His Father. That’s what James is after for us.

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