The Experience of Trials
There’s the story about a student who took an exam in college and got a grade of 5, the lowest failing grade. He went to see the professor. He said, “Prof, I just don’t believe I deserved a grade of 5 in this examination. The professor said, “Neither do I. But it was the lowest grade I could give.”
The Sureness of Trials. In school, you always have tests and exams. So, too, in the school of faith–expect the testing of your faith. The Jewish believers in James’ day were suffering from poverty and persecution. They suffered from social tensions. The rich maltreated the poor, withholding their salaries (Jas. 2:6-7; 5:4-6). Many were landless. Only the few aristocratic families owned land. Taxes were high. (Doesn’t this sound like the Philippines today?) James wrote this book at about 66 AD, scholars say. At this time, social tensions were running high. There were many Jewish zealots or revolutionaries who hated the aristocratic Jewish priests and the Romans. This hatred resulted in a revolt in 66 AD.
James wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials” (James 1:2, ESV, emphasis added). “When” is from the Greek, hotan—“when, whenever, as often as.” James said, “Count it all joy, when,” not if you meet trials. It is not a question of if, but a question of when. If you believe in Christ, expect to face trials.
Job 14:1 says, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (NKJV). Every man that is born of a woman will face troubles in life. But every believer that is born again will face trials. Some prosperity preachers today say that once you obey God, you will walk in the grace and favor of God. Doesn’t God want to give “His best for you”? That is only half-true. In the Bible, there is the gracious favor of God, but also the grinding trials of God. The favor of God may include also the fiery trials of God.
God never promises a trouble-free life. Instead of questioning God to the point of doubting Him, it is better to accept this fact. Face your problems squarely instead of running away from it. Do what is right in His sight. (To do wrong is to displease God and add another problem.) Then count it all joy when you face trials; and trust Him in the midst of tribulations.
 Craig S. Keener, “James,” IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), PC Study Bible CD-Rom, version 5.0. Jim Gilbertson, ed. Seattle: Biblesoft, Inc., 1988-2007.
 Barclay M. Newman, Jr., Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, Concise s. v. oÀtan, Bible Windows CD.