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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

James 1:2 (NIV)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.

Romans 5:3 (NLT)

Does these verses tell us that we should enjoy our problems?

How do Evangelical Christians interpret these passages?

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Evangelical theologians teach that these two passages do not instruct us to "enjoy" trials in the sense of getting pleasure out of them. Rather, we are to have joy despite the trials, because we recognize them to be profitable.

On James 1:2, Thomas Constable writes that the trials themselves are not the source of joy, but rather what they produce:

James counseled his readers to view the "various" kinds of "trials" and tribulations they were encountering in their lives as opportunities for growth. He did not urge them to rejoice that they were undergoing trials. He did not advocate a masochistic attitude that unnaturally rejoices in painful experiences. Rather, he commanded them to view their trials as profitable—even if unpleasant.1

James Burton Coffman similarly writes that James is not suggesting that Christians "pretend that they get joy out of things which are disagreeable" but rather that they view the trial as "an opportunity to gain new strength through overcoming."2

Regarding Romans 5:3, Constable writes that we have joy in difficulties for a reason, and Tim Keller makes this explicit, focusing on the word "in":

Christians, however, rejoice in suffering. That means there is no joy in the actual troubles themselves. God hates the pain and troubles of this life and so should we. Rather, a Christian knows that suffering will have beneficial results. A Christian is not a stoic, who faces suffering by just gritting their teeth. Christians "look through"the suffering to their certainties.3


  1. Constable's Notes on James 1
  2. Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible, James 1
  3. Keller, Romans 1-7 For You, p112

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