The epistle of James was written to Christian Jews who, when persecution came, fled to Roman territories. Amid the many trials and tests, the faith of these dispersed Jews withered. Through commands and warnings, James exhorts the believers to live out a joyful and thriving Christian life.

One of these commands is found in James 1:2, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” This admonition to the persecuted Christian Jews is just as important for us to apply. While simple to say, it can be harder to put into practice. This happens more easily when you exercise what you can call your “thankfulness muscle”. Thanking God for His blessings amidst trials is like a muscle – the more you exercise it (by being thankful), usually the easier it becomes. Thankfulness and joy go hand-in-hand. When we stop and take a look at God’s faithfulness, thanking Him for all He has done, joy is a natural outflow. In the Greek language, the root words for “thankfulness” and “joy” are the same.

In addition, reading biblical examples of those who have undergone tests and persecution can help to build faith, giving the encouragement you need to press on through whatever trial you may be going through. The apostle Paul experienced imprisonments, shipwrecks, hunger, and being stoned. After recounting all of this, he writes in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong”. This passage just may have the missing key to joy in trials. Paul recognized that in his trials, through his weakness, Christ’s strength shone through. Resting in God and His perfect work for us on the cross, and what He is still doing today, brings peace, contentment, and joy. Joy comes through a life fully devoted to Christ and His work.

How will you choose to apply this truth in your life today?