James 1:1 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings."
Two key cultural events that had a “scattering” effect: Persecutions had begun, and a major famine had hit. The persecution had scattered the Jewish Christians, and the famine had hit what has recently been referred to as the “99%” pretty hard. James continues:
James 1:2-4 "In spite of what you might think, there is joy in facing the tests and trials of life, as well as dangerous afflictions of many kinds. When your faith is tested, your endurance has the opportunity to grow. Endure so that you can experience the full effect of these experiences, so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
So far, James is only referring to difficult situations in life. Many translations say “temptations,” this verse specifically refers to the testing of our endurance and your faith. This is calamity of any kind.
- Relationships fail
- Jobs disappear
- Health struggles
- People die
- Friends go to jail
- Spouses leave
- Cars breaks down
- House need repair
- People gossip
Sometimes, even the faithful living out of our commitment to Christ puts us in trying situations.
These are trials. But James says we can find joy in the midst of them if we understand what God is doing.
James 1:13-18 "When tempted to sin, you have to stop saying, “God is tempting me.” God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn’t tempt anyone to do evil. Each person is tempted when they are lured and then carried away by their own desires and lusts. If you nourish the lust conceived in you, you will eventually give birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, will bring death to you. Blessed is the one who patiently endures both temptations to sin and trials of hardship because, having passed the tests, that person will receive the victor’s crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who keep on loving him."
Anything God puts into our life will be good and perfect, intended to accomplish His good and perfect will. God won’t send temptations to sin, but even when we give in He does not remove himself from our struggles.
God can bring something good from things that would otherwise destroy us.
The good that God intends is maturity, completeness, and the “victor’s crown of life,” which seems to carry with it a sense of not only receiving an eternal reward, but finding a place of really living in this life as well.