I’d invite you to take a look with me at the book of James. After a brief greeting in verse 1, James 1:2 makes this seemingly odd statement: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;”
Now, we’ll come back to how we are to have joy in a moment, but what about these “divers temptations?” What temptations is it talking about? Is it talking about rejoicing when we are tempted to sin, or the working of Satan? No, rather, we can look at the next verse to see that the subject is the trying, or testing, of your faith: “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” James 1:3
What is your faith? The word ‘faith’ has been misused and abused over the years to manipulate others and justify all sorts of one’s own selfish behavior. There are “faith healers” who profit off the word while being miles from its definition. There are those who flippantly say “keep the faith,” while simply meaning, 'don’t give up your own plan.'
If you look at a Strong’s concordance or Webster’s 1828 dictionary, or simply do a word study of where you find the word ‘faith’ in your Bible, you will find that faith is a moral conviction of truth, and that you simply cannot move very far between the words “faith” and “faithful.”
To put it simply – faith is being convinced of God’s truth and living by it. We are saved by faith, when we are convinced of the truth that we cannot save ourselves, and trust fully in Christ’s finished work on Calvary to save us. Then we live daily by faith, when we become convinced of the truth of God’s Word and apply it to our lives, and when we become convinced of God’s direction for our lives and follow it.
Taking a step further takes us to an understanding that Paul shares in Galatians 2:20, in which he states, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
This phrase, “of the son” is a possessive phrase; it’s the same phrase used in reference to the Lord’s Supper in John 6:53 where it says, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man…;” and it’s the same phrase used in Luke 17:26, where it says that as it was in the days of Noah, “so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” Paul was not saying that he lived by faith in Jesus or faith on Jesus, but rather that he was living by the very faith of Jesus; this is accomplished by the Indwelling Christ living through you and empowering you to do the will of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s go back then to James 1:3, and apply our understanding of faith. If I am allowing Christ to live through me to accomplish God’s will (faith in action), then I can rejoice when trials come that test this faith, because they are going to strengthen my faith and dependence upon God by seeking Him for Wisdom (vs 5) and develop patience in the process (vs 4).
If we are convinced that we are obeying God and living by faith, trials will only draw us closer to God to ask for wisdom, patience, strength, and the tools necessary to serve Him greater, and verve 5 gives us a precious promised that helps us to rejoice even in trials: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
For the faithful person, trials lead to sweet communion with God, Who loves to hear and answer prayer. He loves to give to all men liberally. He doesn’t upbraid or revile or taunt you when you ask. He promises to give you wisdom. When the God of all the Universe, the One Who created all the World and has all resources at His disposal wants to be generous to you, and give you wisdom in the midst of your trial, why wouldn’t you want to “count it all joy,” and why wouldn’t you want to increase your faith and dependence upon Him by fellowshipping more and seeking His face?