“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2–4, NLT).
Opportunities come but lack the power to make us take them. The choice to take hold of, to make use of opportunities that come is always and only ours. An obstacle to the process of seizing opportunities is that we do not always recognize opportunities as opportunities for positive change, as growing-in-His-image opportunities. Especially when the opportunity comes in the form of trouble.
We can more readily see trouble as an opportunity to whine, complain, be immobilized by fear, activate intense efforts to control everything and everyone to manage our anxiety—the list goes on. Yet our Father tells us through the apostle James that trouble is an opportunity for joy. Yes, joy.
The verses indicate that recognizing trouble as an opportunity for joy is tied to knowledge. It is tied to knowing there is a purpose to trouble and the purpose is not to destroy us but to strengthen and mature us. Trouble, an opportunity for joy. And growth.
“Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4, VOICE)
Note: A version of this post was published is in the book, Sliced Bread: Food for the Spirit (2016).