Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Few people like these verses. We seek encouragement during times of challenge, but for this verse to suggest that we should consider it pure joy when you face trials is another thing? Am I supposed to just put on a happy face and pretend this is ok, when I am scared inside, or hurting, or questioning? I believe that the rest of this verse helps to flesh out what our response to trials best looks like. It says that the testing of our faith produces perseverance, which needs to finish its work so that we may be complete and not lacking. You can read between the lines here, it is reminding us that we are not complete, that we are lacking, and that God is preparing to provide what we need so we can most fully live into the plan He has for our lives. James is just reminding us that the preparation may involve challenges.
I think this passage is also seeking to help broaden our perspective on life. Often our first reactions to trials are negative: fear, anxiety, anger, confusion, and more. James is challenging us to check ourselves, because our negative emotions are driven by the immediate, how do I feel right now? Instead we are reminder that God could take our trials and allow for them to be preparation for something else He has for us.
Not long ago, I had to share a mini-timeline of my life, and all the major events, and what I saw God teaching me over the year with a team I am a part of. As I completed sharing one team member commented how much God has led me to experience already so early in my young life. My honest response to them was, I either need to be very scared, because what does God have in store that this preparation is needed for in my life; OR I should be so grateful and excited, because God has something in my life that that is so significant it needs this kind of preparation even so early in my life. I ask that you consider in all kinds of challenges stopping to say, God what are you preparing me for, what are you teaching me, what is this in my life for, so that we don’t miss the great work God may be doing in your midst.