As athletes, we are taught to stretch before we compete or even practice. As Christians, unfortunately, we often fall into trials that test our faith long before we have had the opportunity to get ready for the fight. James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2–4) 

James points out that it is never if, but when things blow up, God will faithfully intervene and use what you are going through to make you and me “complete,” so we lack nothing. (Romans 8:28) James uses the Greek word ὁλόκληρος [holoklēros] for being this whole person in the eyes of God and those around us as we are tested over and over again. This being “complete,” speaks of meeting all expectations with integrity. Being found whole, complete, undamaged, intact, and blameless in our times of affliction.1 

The old saying, “What does not kill you makes you stronger,” would apply there. Yet, in our world, caught in the cosmological battle between good and evil, we also know that what does not kill us may try again. God wants us to be ready for the fight! This is why He does not rescue us from every little thing that makes us uncomfortable. This answers the age-old question of why Christians suffer. It makes us stronger. God wants us ready for battle!

We also never need to pretend we are “happy” when hurting. Pain is real, and being authentic in our pain is okay. However, we need to have a “God has got this” positive attitude. He did say to “consider it an opportunity for great joy.” Why? Because of the troubles we experience in our lives, we grow up. James says that God ultimately turns our hardships into times of learning and growth. Our tough times can teach us to persevere, making us stronger and more effective for the Kingdom of God. So, bring it! We want to be at our best for God.

For other passages dealing with perseverance (also called patience and steadfastness), see Romans 2:7; 5:3–5; 8:24, 25; 2 Corinthians 6:3–7; 2 Peter 1:2–9.

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1. William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 703.