My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4)
According to Strong’s Concordance, joy is defined as a cheerful calm, delight, and gladness.
Temptation is a putting to proof (test, provoke); by implication adversity: to try.
According to these verses, I should approach the temptation to fear, for example, with a cheerful calm, knowing that it is a testing of my faith in God, and that will work patience (cheerful or hopeful endurance, constancy: -- enduring, patient continuance; waiting) into my life. I like to picture it as a “working in” as in baking: when the chef works additional flour into the dough, he slowly incorporates it into the dough, working it in over a period of time. Testing works patience into my life, over time.
In addition, I am instructed by James to LET patience have a complete or mature work. Why? So I can be perfect (complete in various applications of labour, growth, mental and moral character, etc.) and entire (perfectly sound in body), wanting (or lacking) nothing!
What better or happier way of life than a cheerful calm no matter what temptation or test comes my way! Jesus prayed for me to be perfect, mature, and complete, and in His prayer, He gave the reason for His prayer.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23)
We are a living witness to the world when we act and live in spiritual maturity. They see that our Christianity is real when they see us go through temptations and trials and still show maturity and trust in God.
We have the assurance that our suffering will not last forever, and that God will, in maturing us, bring stability and strength to our lives. He promises to settle us.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. (1 Peter 5:10)
God allows tests and afflictions into our lives, because He knows we need it, but He’s watching us the entire time. He never takes His eye off of us. And He also promises to build and to plant into our lives.
And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.
In Your Word, I find my comfort,
Rest from my affliction,
Evidence of faithfulness,
Your mercy, love, and grace.
It is in my darkest midnight
That I’ve found my greatest treasure:
The assurance that You hear me, Lord,
And that You see me in this place!
(“Whispers in the Night,” by Roger Bennett)
If you’re being tested today, “lift up [your] eyes unto the hills”! (Psalm 121) God is your Help, and you can be assured that He sees you, He’s watching you, and He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).