James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
The house we lived in in Tennessee backed up to a school yard that had a ½ mile walking path. I would typically walk it at a very brisk pace. In one corner the path has a slight incline in it. Walking at a leisurely pace it might not be noticed, but at the rate I was going it was noticeable.
There are other places to walk that go across hilly terrain that are a bit more taxing. At the far end of the spectrum are paths or trails in the mountains that are very rigorous. In Colorado a very popular trail is the Pike’s Peak Incline – a railroad tie stairway up the mountain. A friend of ours, has taken groups to Nepal to climb to the Mt. Everest Base Camp that is at about 17,590 feet. It takes about 2 weeks to hike there and back. It’s not only a rigorous climb but because of the height, there is altitude sickness to contend with.
When considering today’s verse, using the illustrations of hiking, many of us only think of it in terms of big or rigorous trials – like encountering mountains. We tend to perceive it as being instructed to have joy when we encounter mountains to climb – not the little hills or inclines. But that severely limits this verse and our accountability to this command.
Again, thinking in terms of hiking terrain, the ‘trials of many kinds’ in today’s verse applies to everything from ‘a slight incline’ to going to the Base Camp’. No matter how small the ‘incline or hill’ we are to have joy.
Maybe the word ‘trial’ throws us. Consider some words used in other translations instead of the word trials: temptations; tests; challenges; troubles. Think of all the ‘little’ things that occur everyday we encounter and we have to deal with. The little ‘tests’; the little ‘troubles’; the many temptations to respond in situations unrighteously – these are the heart of this verse. These are the places where our joy is to be evident. Do we respond with joy – or with annoyance, frustration or anger? These are the places that prepare us for the ‘big’ trials.
In looking at other versions of today’s verse, two in particular really stood our. Please consider these as you go through your day:
- Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. (The Message)
- Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. (New Living Translation)