September 21, 2016
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.—James 1:2
Fire can be one of the worst enemies of trees. But it can also be helpful. Experts say that small, frequent fires called “cool” fires clean the forest floor of dead leaves and branches but don’t destroy the trees. They leave behind ashes, which are perfect for seeds to grow in. Surprisingly, low-intensity fires are necessary for healthy growth of trees.
Similarly, trials—pictured as fire in the Bible—are necessary for our spiritual health and growth (1 Peter 1:7; 4:12). James wrote, “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” (James 1:2-4).
It is in the season of trial that God’s purposes are often realized, for there the conditions are right for us to grow into spiritual maturity. This growth not only equips us for living, but it also enables us to more accurately reflect Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him.
In the hands of our Father, our trials can achieve His purposes for our good and for His honor. They can shape us into the likeness of His Son. —Bill Crowder
Father, teach me to trust You for the strength to endure difficulties and the faith to wait for Your good purposes to be accomplished in me.
Encourage others! Go to odb.org and share what God taught you through a challenging time.
INSIGHT: James, the half-brother of Jesus, believed that Christ was the Messiah after witnessing His resurrection from the dead. James led the early church as a “Messianic Jew,” a term referring to someone who has been reared in the traditions of Judaism and who acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah. In today’s reading, James says that a positive attitude toward trials—“consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds” (1:2)—is central to the Christian life. Trials are beneficial because they produce positive character change through the power of God.