“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
Another insight I’ve gleaned in my study of James 1:2-8 is from the phrase “And let steadfastness have its full effect…” This command carries an implication, and the implication is that it is possible to walk through a trial and not profit in the way that God intends. We can actually miss out on the “full effect” God has designed for that trial. What a horrific thought!
Trials are allowed by God for a purpose. They are hard, sometimes excruciatingly so, but they produce good fruit if—and only if—we let steadfastness have its full effect. That’s why John Piper urges people “Don’t Waste Your Trial”: because it is possible to waste it.
“James is bringing in a word of caution.” comments Alec Motyer on this verse:
“A believer might endure for a while, and then tire of enduring. In this case the desired growth to maturity is halted mid-way. There has to be a persistency of enduring: Steadfastness must have its full effect…. The road is, therefore, hard and long, and the task is unremitting: to endure the first onset of the startling, unexpected trial, and to endure again while it persists, and then to go on enduring…. We are thus called to a persistent endurance. But this hard road has a glorious destination for us: that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. The Message of James, p.32.
So how do we keep from wasting our trial? We persist in enduring. No matter how long the road. No matter how numerous the setbacks. No matter how deep the disappointment. We must keep before us that glorious destination: “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” And having done all, we must simply stand.