Scholars who study the book of James say this letter defies any attempt to structure and organize James’ thoughts. Again like Proverbs, James jumps from topic to topic. This is the kind of book where one verse or small passage in a chapter will catch the eye and speak to the heart. Because of that, I imagine each of us will have different reactions to each chapter.
In chapter one I was drawn to the way Wright worded verse 2:
My dear family, when you find yourselves tumbling into various trials and tribulations, learn to look at it with complete joy.
I remember reading this verse for the first time, in the New International Version:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.
I remember thinking, “What? Are you kidding? Be glad about hard times? No way! Surely not!”
But I had missed the first two words, “consider it.” In other words, choose to think of it as a blessing. This is not a reaction that comes naturally. That is why I like Wright’s way of saying it, “Learn to look at it with complete joy.” This is a frame of mind that comes with time and training.
May we learn little by little that the fires of life aren’t meant to burn us up, rather they refine us and make us pure!