It is obvious from what James says that troubles, if responded to correctly, help make strong Christians who are unmoveable when storms get worse. We could say that troubles get us to fix our priorities. In a literal storm, we save the important rather than the trivial. A couple would rescue the picture of their wedding rather than a copy of the daily newspaper. Just as a storm blows away things that we don’t need, so trials in the Christian life get rid of things that will hinder our growth in grace.
James indicates that the trial may last longer than we want and when that happens there will a temptation to bring it to an end prematurely by compromising in some way with the cause of the trial. He tells his readers that their perseverance has to last as long as the trial. Yet he is not suggesting that their response should only be stoical. Instead their faith has to be involved through each stage. They are to regard the trials as part of God’s calling on their lives.
One parable of Jesus that reminds us of this reality is the parable of the sower. I think we tend to forget that three of the four responses failed to include steadfastness and that the correct response was marked by steadfastness. An essential mark of a genuine believer is that he or she persists in following Jesus, even although they may do so in different degrees, as that parable indicates.
The outcome is that we become balanced Christians, or as James says ‘perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.’ When he mentions ‘perfect’, he does not mean sinless, but he does mean sanctified and spiritually mature. When he says ‘complete, lacking in nothing’, he does not mean that the believer becomes self-sufficient, but he does mean that the believer has discovered the reliable source of grace, one that he had utilised often when under trial.