We need to expect trials, and persevering through them can be easier when we understand the blessings! James 1:12 and 5:11 state:
- James 1:12—Blessed is the man who perseveres trials;
for when he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life which
the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
- James 5:11a—Indeed we count them blessed who persevere [through trials].
The Greek word for “persevere” is hypomonē, which is the same word for “patience” in James 1:3 and 4:
Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (hypomone). But let patience (hypomone) have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Many Bibles translate “patience” as “perseverance” or “endurance.” This is fitting because patience allows believers to persevere. I prefer “persevere,” because “endure” sounds like tolerating or putting up with. Persevere is synonymous with success. Those who persevere through trials are victorious. They are triumphant and blessed as a result. Some of the blessings, such as maturing from trials, occur in this life. Other blessings occur in the next life when we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
A few years ago I was experiencing a trial, and this is part of a message one of my heroes, Dave Zumstein, sent me:
It may seem glorious to you to be a mighty man leading mighty men into battle. I think it is glorious to God to see a man quietly, but strongly, striving to fight the good fight amidst difficult times. When the call comes for difficult times, oh that we might be that type of man.
Dave knew I was an Army officer, so he drew upon something I could appreciate—the contrast between physical and spiritual warfare. Yes, from an earthly perspective, little is more impressive than courageously risking your life in battle; however, from heaven’s perspective, little is more impressive than persevering through trials in a God-honoring way. I try to remember the above quote during trials, hoping that by God’s grace, I might endure in a way that pleases Him.
No Blessing without Persevering
James 1:12 and 5:11 are past tense. Why is that? These verses discuss when the trial is over. Even though James 1:2–4, 1:12, and 5:11 are similar, there is an important difference:
- James 1:2–4 discuss what is happening when trials take place—how they produce patience, which produces maturity.
- James 1:12 and 5:11 discuss what happens when trials are over—blessing for persevering.
Think of the account with Abraham. After he persevered, Genesis 22:15–17 says:
Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.
Abraham was blessed after his trial was over.
The same took place with Job:
“And the Lord restored Job’s losses…Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).
The same took place with King Asa early in his reign when the Ethiopians attacked him and he trusted God. Not only did God give him the victory, he also blessed him with an immense amount of plunder from the battle. Second Chronicles 14:13b–15 records:
And they carried away very much spoil. Then they defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the Lord came upon them; and they plundered all the cities, for there was exceedingly much spoil in them. They also attacked the livestock enclosures, and carried off sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.
Similarly, we often receive the blessings God has for us after the trial is over. Although, since the blessing is associated with the trial, without the trial, there is no blessing. We cannot persevere if there is no trial to persevere through. Warren Wiersbe said:
“There can be no victories without battles; there can be no peaks without valleys. If you want the blessing, you must be prepared to carry the burden and fight the battle.”
Imagine a student who says, “I want to be smart, but I do not want to study,” or an athlete who says, “I want to win, but I do not want to practice,” or a business owner who says, “I want to make money, but I do not want to work hard.” In the Christian life, it is equally foolish to say, “I want a blessing, but I do not want to endure. I want a reward, but I do not want to persevere.”
Rather than being discouraging, this should be encouraging. This truth helps us welcome trials because we can look forward to the blessings they provide. This is one more reason we can “count it all joy.”
Eternal Life is the Greatest Blessing for Persevering
James 1:12 says, “…for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life…” The NIV and ESV say, “When he has stood the test.” We are saved by grace through faith, so if faith is “tested” and “approved” what should we receive? Salvation!
That is exactly what James 1:12 promises—the “crown of life” is literally “the crown which consists of life.” Persevering through trials does not save any more than works save, but since it reveals faith is genuine the result is eternal life. James wants his readers to be encouraged that when their faith has persevered, they can look forward to heaven with the Lord. Of all the blessings Christians receive because of their faith, this is the greatest.
The Apostle Peter makes the same point in his companion passage:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:6–7, 9).
The book of Hebrews was written to Jews who were considering abandoning the faith because of the trials they were experiencing. They were instructed if they persevered they would be saved. Hebrews 10:36 says: “You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” This is the promise of eternal life.
Scripture’s Example of A Persevering Saint
Since persevering through trials is so important, we need to know what it looks like to do so. Fortunately, Scripture provides an example in James 5:11b:
“You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful”
How did Job persevere? He persevered the same way everyone perseveres through trials—by maintaining faith in God.
Twice Satan predicted Job would curse God, and at one point Job’s wife even told him to do so. The devil said Job was only faithful to God because of the absence of trials and the abundance of blessings in his life. If God added trials and removed the blessings, Satan was sure Job’s faith would not persevere. In Job 1:9-11 and 2:5 he said:
“Does Job fear [You] for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!…Stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
Satan is the Accuser, so this is what we expect him to say. Job’s wife’s words, on the other hand, are shocking:
“Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).
What a wonderful woman! I have no idea how one of the greatest men in history ended up with her as a wife, but when you read what she said you learn why the devil killed everyone in Job’s life, but let her live! She was Satan’s servant.
What if Job had not persevered? What if he reached the end of his trials without faith in God? Then he would not have received the crown of life. He would have been like Judas who looked like a believer for some time, but then it was revealed he was unsaved. Believers will persevere and unbelievers will not.
Discussion Questions to Answer in the Comments Section
- How are patience and endurance similar?
- Along with Abraham, King Asa, and Job, what other persevering saints from Scripture come to mind?
- What other blessings can you remember during trials to help you persevere?