God can speak to us in the most unexpected ways. One of those ways for me has been watching a show called The Biggest Loser. For those who may not know, this is a contest between a cross-section of people, all needing to lose significant weight. I have learned more about James 1 from this show!
The contestants learn to eat right and work out each day. But at the end of the week they experience the most intense work-out. They sweat (and puke). It is painful. Muscles burn. Tempers flare. The two trainers push these individuals way beyond what seems humanly possible. But the results are amazing. These people lose many pounds each week and keep working toward their goals.
You see a difference in attitude among the contestants from week to week. Some seem to just be going through the motions – they don’t really seem to want to give full effort, and their heart doesn’t seem to be engaged. But some contestants see the end goal. They love it when the trainers push them as hard as possible, so that they lose more weight and attain their goal. They see that the trainer, even though asking them to do painful things, really has their best interests in mind.
What does this have to do with James 1?
James says that we should consider trials to be PURE JOY. How can trials be pure joy? When we walk through trials with the end goal in mind, we can consider trials pure joy because they are the way to the goal we really want – to be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
God is faithful. He is like the trainers, who are with the contestants through the whole thing and provide what is needed—instructions, hard words, smiles, attitude chats, hugs, and understanding—to help reach the goal.
God will never leave us. He will not let us be tempted (this is the same Greek word as trials in James) beyond what we can bear. He will provide us a way out so that we can stand up under it. (Of course we need to flee physically and mentally from temptations, but we also need to walk rightly through trials. God providing us a “way out” doesn’t mean we get to avoid the trial – otherwise we wouldn’t be “standing up under it”!!! See 1 Corinthians 10:13.) God is there with us through the whole thing and will give us whatever we need
In Philippians 3, Paul says: not that I am already perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do one thing: I press on to the goal, straining to what is ahead, to win the prize for which God called me.
You can do it! God is with you! He wants to guide you and enable you to stand through all trials. (See Habakkuk 3:17-19 below.) May you experience God’s incredible power and love as He walks with you through the fire. PURE JOY in trials – because Jesus is with us, encouraging us and enabling us to reach the goal.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
With thanks to our Lord--it is HIS strength in us that enables us to go on the heights,