How to Profit from Trials

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles (trials) that one has overcome while trying to succeed. - (Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), Educator, as quoted in Bits & Pieces, Vol. T/No. 17, p. 5). … More


James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ and a key leader in the Jerusalem church writes to scattered Jewish believers (v. 1). These are thriving Jewish-Christian communities in Rome, Alexandria, Cyprus, and cities in Greece and Asia Minor. Many were severely persecuted and even died because of their faith in Jesus. James was concerned and wrote this letter which begins by giving them three key words on how to handle trials. These three key words will help us remember these principles: count, know, and let.

  1. Count (v.2) - Have a joyful attitude.
  2. Know (v.3) - Have an understanding mind.
  3. Let (v.4) - Have a surrendered will.

James doesn’t say, if we face trials, but when we face trials. He assumes that we will have trials and that it is possible to profit from them. The point is to not to pretend to be happy when we face pain, but to have a positive outlook (“count it all joy” - v. 2) because of what trials can produce in our lives. When a trial comes our way we should mentally consider that it is for our good because we know some things about trials. We know that God promises he will not give us more than we can bear (I Corinthians 10:13). We also know that God will be with us in trials (Hebrews 13:5) as He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3).


About 25 year ago I had to have a gall bladder operation? It wasn’t fun but it was good for me. I considered it good because I knew that without the operation I would be in pain or perhaps even die from this. Because I knew it was for my good I could let the doctor cut me open and fix what was wrong. If there was anything I was unsure about I could simply ask the doctor. I need to treat the trials of this life as an operation.

James 1:1-4 (English Standard Version)

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