James 1:2-4 (NLT)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, writes to all the Israelites. In these verses he tells them to look for opportunities of joy when problems rise up against them. These problems and afflictions are trials that test faith and prove that one can endure with God�s help whatever comes their way. There should be a desire to welcome these trials so ones faith might develop leading one to a greater perfection and completeness.
In a Leadership Journal article, John Ortberg argues that sometimes stressful and painful situations can actually help us grow. Ortberg creates the following scenario:
Imagine you're handed a script of your newborn child's entire life. Better yet, you're given an eraser and five minutes to edit out whatever you want. You read that she will have a learning disability in grade school. Reading, which comes easily for some kids, will be laborious for her. In high school, she will make a great circle of friends, then one of them will die of cancer. After high school, she will get into her preferred college, but while there, she will lose a leg in a car accident. Following that, she will go through a difficult depression. A few years later she'll get a great job, then lose that job in an economic downturn. She'll get married, but then go through the grief of separation.
With this script of your child's life and five minutes to edit it, what would you erase? Psychologist Jonathon Haidt poses this question in this hypothetical exercise: Wouldn't you want to take out all the stuff that would cause them pain?
If you could erase every failure, disappointment, and period of suffering, would that be a good idea? Would that cause them to grow into the best version of themselves? Is it possible that we actually need adversity and setbacks�maybe even crises and trauma�to reach the fullest potential of development and growth?
Ortberg contends that God doesn't always erase all our stress and pain before it starts. Instead, God can use the failures, disappointments, and periods of suffering to help us grow. Ortberg writes, "God isn't at work producing the circumstances I want. God is at work in bad circumstances to produce the me he wants." [John Ortberg, "Don't Waste a Crisis," Leadership Journal (Winter, 2011)]