Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 (NIV)
It takes an oyster somewhere between three and six years to produce a perfect pearl. The process begins with a small piece of sand or other irritant entering the oyster. A pearl is a product of pain and suffering. A pearl is formed when an oyster gets a grain of sand trapped in the soft flesh inside its shell. This piece of sand irritates the oyster and it responds by coating the grain with layers of saliva and calcium. The oyster and its pearl provide a beautiful picture of a positive response to life’s irritants.
Going through trying times is not pleasant. Many Christians naively thing that if they obey the Lord, they will be spared from any trials. When trials hit them, they are confused and often angry at God. Yet the Bible says:
…do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12 (NASB)
In today’s verse, James does not say “if you encounter various trials” but “whenever”. The Bible gives abundant testimony that all of God’s saints encounter trials. The purpose of the trial is so that we may be “mature and complete, not lacking anything”. J.B Phillips understood this as he paraphrased the passage:
When all kinds of trials crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they have come to test your endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed and you will find you have become men (and women) of mature character. James 1:2-4 (JPB)
God gives us a promise that we can “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope,” It is through the hurt, pain and ugliness that often, God creates beauty in each of us. Let us remember the pearl and see our irritations and trials in a new light. Let us allow God to develop something of beauty in us and become mature and complete, not lacking in anything.