What makes you happy? I asked this question to a teen class once. The responses were varied. Some said things like hanging out with friends, playing games, and reading their Bible. I even had one response of “bacon.” When we think of happiness, there are many thoughts which flood our minds. Family, friends, the beach, the sunset, favorite pastimes, food, or perhaps a specific memory are all common.
Something not on our minds when we think of what makes us happy is trials. Yet, the Bible tells us that we are to “count it all joy” when we meet “trials of various kinds” (James 1:2).
The word translated “joy” in James 1:2 literally means “a reason for gladness.” Why should these outward trials and tests of our faith make us happy? James tells us that joy comes from our trials when we realize that these tests “produce steadfastness” and the full effect of steadfastness is being “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
God, as any loving Father, wishes for us to mature. We mature as individuals and as Christians when we face difficulties. We cannot hide from the trials of life and the tests of our faith, but we can grow from them. It is for this very reason that Paul said he and his coworkers “rejoice in our sufferings,” because suffering leads to endurance, endurance leads to character, character leads to hope, and hope in God does not put to shame (Rom. 5:3-5).
Undoubtedly, hardships and God’s discipline can be for our good (Heb 12:7-13). The result of being steadfast through such trials is receiving “the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12; cf. Rev 2:10). With God, trials and tests of faith will produce a Christian who stands their ground with a rock-solid faith—similar to a tree planted by the waters (Ps 1:3). Peter likewise tells us that the “tested genuineness of your faith” is “more precious than gold.” Since such is the case, let us view our trials as opportunities for future rejoicing!