Read This Week’s Passage: James 1:1–8

The Benefit of Weakness

Humanity, with its natural tilt toward illusory self-sufficiency, will go out of its way to hide weakness and struggle. People rejoice over such experiences only in the context of clear accomplishment: sleep deprivation for the sake of a job promotion or exhausted muscles for the sake of a personal record marathon. James had a better accomplishment in mind, though: the growth of character. When faith is tested in trials, weakness and struggle are often exposed. According to James, this is a good thing.

James is so sold on the value of this experience that he encourages the brethren to “count it all joy when [they] fall into various trials” (James 1:2, emphasis supplied). Don’t just let it happen, he says. Enjoy it. This joy occurs with the understanding that “the testing of your faith produces patience” (v. 3). Pain with a purpose, like fatigued muscles for a marathon, becomes bearable, even enjoyable.

James continues, advising that when someone lacks wisdom—when they see something as beyond their ability to comprehend, figure out, or grapple with—instead of despairing, questioning their calling, or self-censuring for their lack, they should ask God for wisdom, knowing that He gives it liberally to all who ask (v. 5). This lack or weakness in wisdom should be seen as an invitation to come near to God and draw from His abundance of grace and gifts. All weaknesses, struggles, and lacking should be treated the same way.