For many years I had a love-hate relationship with today’s Scripture passage. The “love” part related to testing, perseverance, maturity, and wisdom. That made sense to me. The “hate” part related to the first line, “Consider it pure joy” (v. 2). “Seriously?” I thought. “That’s too much to ask!”
Nonetheless, God’s Word says what it says. How, then, does the spiritual process of learning and growing unfold in these verses? While the word “learn” isn’t used here, the process described is one of growing and maturing toward godliness (vv. 2–4). Our faith is tested when we face various trials and tribulations. If we stand firm in faith, we develop perseverance, which in turn will eventually bring us to maturity and finally to Christlike completeness or perfection (Matt. 5:48).
This process isn’t inevitable. We must make right and wise choices. If our faith is weak or we sidestep opportunities for growth, the learning process is stalled. If we consider it hardship, we’ll merely try to escape the process. Only by considering it “pure joy” can we embrace trials and tribulations as God-given and God- directed lessons for our good. In doing so, we follow the example of Christ Himself: “He learned obedience from what he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). Learning in this sense is experiential, that is, it can happen only in action.
We can make wise choices, learn God’s lessons for us, and grow in our faith only with His help (James 1:5–8). The Lord stands ready to generously provide wisdom, but we need to ask in faith—standing on our Rock, not blown about by the wind (see January 9). The evidence of our learning will be in the results. If we’re standing firm and persevering, our growing and maturing will be clearly seen, not to our credit but to God’s glory.
>> Did you start a learning journal this month? If not, it’s never too late! A journal is a great way to keep a personal record of what God is teaching you about life, His Word, and Himself.
Teach us, challenge us, and mold us into a form that is pleasing to You. Give us courage to follow You into grueling circumstances. Grant us joy in obedience, knowing that our submission honors You.