Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
In Oracle Arizona an out-of-place, sprawling glass pyramid stands alone. The pyramid is full of lush, beautiful greenery—in stark contrast to the bleak desert outside. Biosphere 2, as they call it, is the world’s largest controlled environment in the world, capable of fine-tuning all external conditions for life to flourish. But during its first mission between 1991 and 1993, where 8 occupants attempted to live in the Biosphere to test the practicality of controlled environments for space colonization, something strange was happening to the trees. Despite growing larger much faster than trees outside the biosphere, they would never make it to maturation, instead they simply toppled under their own weight. Researchers found that these trees lacked stress wood because their bark and root systems suffered from lack of natural wind. Stress wood allows trees to adjust towards light sources and to grow strong, foundational root systems. In other words, stress made trees strong and capable of growing up into maturity.
Notice how James says something similar in James 1:2-4, where trials in our faith produce perseverance and perseverance brings us towards maturity and completeness. Trials in our faith help us to lean evermore towards God’s light and encourage us to grow deep roots into God’s promises. Indeed, Christians who have endured hardship for the sake of the Gospel have learned anew what it is to trust and hope in Jesus alone. Hardships can rid us of external expectations on how we expect God to operate in the world and bring us back to the only thing that matters—not what we do, but what Christ as done.
If you are going through trials now, do your best to consider it pure joy as James tells us, because trials are not a sign of weakness, it is an indication that you are ready to grow. Ask yourself these questions, (1) what trial or hardship am I going through right now? (2) In what way is this hardship teaching me to persevere? And lastly, (3) What can I thank God for during this time of growth?
Lord, help me to have a heart prepared for trial and hardship. Lord, when life is overwhelming and things seem impossible, teach me to have joy that surpasses understanding—teach me to endure so that I may mature in faith and lack nothing, for you will be my everything.