My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2–4—NKJV)

A healthy outlook based on solid facts and a clear conscience is a formidable strategy in the face of any obstacle in life. Without such a well of courage the obstacle seems to become animated, develop legs, and join in the pursuit of your destruction. One newly saved author referred to this life insightfully as a “wondrous and brutal existence.” How true that this life God has given us is indeed wonder filled and yet Adam’s sin has subjugated us all to brutal consequences.

Our text alludes to various trials into which a believer “falls.” The “fall” is none of his doing but rather the word picture is one of being surrounded by trial-laced obstacles from without, and the believer “falls among” the trials. The brutal trial into which he falls, though common to the rest of mankind, becomes a critical testing of his faith. 1 Peter 4:12 states, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.”

James, the half-brother of our Lord, identifies three checks to a believer’s souring attitude in the middle of troubles that weigh heavily and, left to themselves, will tend to wear down any hearty saint. These strategies prepare the believer to engage each day as another opportunity to discover God’s loyal grace on this side of eternity. The strategies require the investment of intentional engagement rather than simply counting on good feeling or natural resilience. Believers are to fortify their resolve by counting, concentrating, and cooperating with God’s perfecting grace. Remember, it is your faith that is being put to the test.

The first strategy is to “count it all joy.” When your tranquility, happiness, and the “normal” expectations of life are disrupted by some unpleasant circumstance, you must consider and evaluate (literally, to lead before the mind) the eternal significance of the matter. Joy in the trial is only possible when seen from the vantage point of eternity. Every authentic believer knows that he has cast all the welfare of his body and soul upon God and, from the point of regeneration on, his life is a partnership with God. These problems are not mere “events,” “bad luck,” or “karma.” God, always in fullest wisdom and covenant loyalty, has His ways of molding events to bring your faith to its fullest completion.

The second strategy is to concentrate, to “know” that the trial of your faith produces “patience.” This is more than simple ledger book accounting for it is an enlightened knowledge of discerning and distinguishing that the pain of the moment is designed to bring into sharp relief the fact that God is working. Nothing happens to the believer because of “fate,” nor do bad things occur because God is trying to “get even” with His beloved child. God delights in refining and strengthening faith. He does so by fostering the production of patience (the ability to “remain under” and to endure) until the period of testing (assaying to prove the mettle of faith and declare it worthy) is over.

The third strategy is to cooperate with God’s plan of producing patience so that He may make you “perfect, complete, lacking nothing.” The lesson for every believer is that the obstacles to our comfort are to be obediently endured for as long as God sees fit, recognizing that it is a trade of our treasured tranquility for God’s higher value of proven love, purified faith, and perfected maturity.

This is the outlook God desires our hearts to foster before Him even in the dark days. Are you in partnership with His values and goals in your life? Trust and obey.