The trouble with trouble is that it is extremely challenging to do what James instructs us to in verse 2. But moving on in the text gives us great incentives. Verse 3 tells us that our endurance can grow. This is critical, because next time trouble rolls around we will be just that much more able to rejoice. Furthermore verse 4 tells us that continued practice brings a “completeness”. James says, “you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” Wow, think of the trouble you could give the devil!
Here’s an important distinctive: mature people are not necessarily more blessed or gifted than others; they simply practice more. Scientists have investigated this question of expertise — specifically, skill at a level that seems unobtainable by normal, motivated individuals. In one study, researchers led by Florida State University professor K. Anders Ericsson studied musicians at a Berlin conservatory. Students were divided into three skill levels, including one the faculty had identified as having the best chance of becoming world-class soloists. The researchers had the students keep diaries of their schedules and looked at such information as when they started playing and their practice habits as children.
The results were clear-cut, with little room for any sort of inscrutable God-given talent. The elite musicians had simply practiced far more than the others. “That’s been replicated for all sorts of things — chess players and athletes, dart players,” says Ericsson. “The only striking difference between experts and amateurs is in this capability to deliberately practice.”
So this is my exhortation. Practice joy in those troubling moments. Pray for wisdom and worship for grace space…but seize the moment! Each time you practice you are laying the solid groundwork of spiritual maturity and increasing your capacity to face trouble with God-fueled joy!