James 1:2 NIV

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

At one point in Moses’ life he prayed that if God really loved him then God would kill him as a show of compassion (Numbers 11:15). Moses had enough of the whining and complaining of the people that God asked him to lead.

Numbers 11:14-15 NIV

14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.

Paul suffered many trials at the hand of man:

2 Corinthians 11:23-29

23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

Beyond that he suffered some type of trial by the permission of God. Paul called it a messenger of Satan and begged God to remove this “thorn in the flesh.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

7 ... or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I posit that Paul explains his 'delight' [εὐδοκῶ 2106] as a rationalisation, 'think it good', cf pure joy of James 1:2. And emotional joy χαρὰν 5479 differs from intellectual rationalisation of εὐδοκῶ 2106 that it is good.

I struggle to find an example in Scripture where the pure joy of James 1:2 was achieved in trials, including in the life of Christ. James could have used a form of εὐδοκῶ, but rather used χαρὰν.

So I ask the reasonable question: 'Is James 1:2 literal and achievable as ‘pure joy [χαρὰν 5479] in trials?' If so, what are specific examples, barring intellectual acceptance and rationalisation that trials are for the overall good? If not, what is James saying?

2 Answers 2


The OP states, “I struggle to find an example in Scripture where the pure joy of James 1:2 was achieved in trials.” The best example, I believe, is the one supplied by Jesus himself - that of the pain of childbirth, which must be endured for there to be the joy of new life.

John 16:21-22 BLB

21 The woman has pain when she is giving birth, because her hour has come; but when she brings forth the child, she remembers the tribulation no longer, on account of the joy that a man has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you also indeed have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

The Greek word rendered as joy in Jn 16:21 is χαρά (Strong’s 5479), the same as that in James 1:2. This joy does not stem from the pain itself but from the knowledge of what is gained through it. An expectant mother cannot contemplate the one without the other, the joy of new life without the pain of childbirth. Likewise, we are called to view our trials from the perspective of what lies through and beyond them.

While the immediate effect of trials is to build endurance for the purpose of our perfection (Jm 1:2), the ultimate goal is “the crown of life,” which the man who endures trial (for the love of Christ) is promised (v12). It is through the lens of that joy that we are to view our present trials (cf Mt 5:10-12).

James 1:12

12 Blessed is the man who endures trial, because, having been approved, he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those loving Him.

The passage stresses that while these trials/temptations do not come from God (v13), He can make all things serve His will of good for us.

17 Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of shifting. 18 Having willed it, He brought us forth by the word of truth, for us to be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.

Thus even the trials we face can bring us closer to God, the contemplation of which is meant to be a source of comfort and strength amid the trials and tribulations of our present life, and true joy in the life that is to come.

  • 1
    Thank you, +1 from me. I was unaware John 16:21-22 uses Joy 'χαρὰν', that's the example type I look for. Joy after childbirth is an emotion we might readily relate to. Even if not first hand experience of the suffering that precedes it in the moment, we might imagine. Very interesting how pain itself might not be precisely remembered - at least I'm told that can be true in terms of recall of that painful experience. Insightful, and much appreciated well written answer. Thank you.
    – user59096
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 10:22
  • @Thermion Your question also helped me to reexamine this passage and see it in a new light.
    – Nhi
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 17:52
  • enough time has passed on this Q and you have my green tick. Appreciated.
    – user59096
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 21:28

You are undermining the semantic scope of eudokeo in 2 Cor 12:10. It is translated as delight, content, take pleasure in Bible versions. It has the same connotation as in James 1:2 "Pure Joy", complete joy = nothing but joy. Consult lexicons and commentaries. Moreover, the verse doesn't say that the trials are joy, to be contradictory; rather it says to consider or esteem it your joy.

Expositor's Greek Testament commentary states on James 1:2

“With all joy be rejoicing my brethren.” ἡγήσασθε: the writer is not to be understood as meaning that these trials are joyful in themselves, but that as a means to beneficial results they are to be rejoiced in; it is the same thought as that contained in Heb 12:11 :

ESV Heb 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

TSK cross-references lists these verses for that phrase in 2Cor 12:10

2Cor 1:4; 2Cor 4:8-10; 2Cor 4:17; 2Cor 7:4; Acts 5:41; Rom 5:3; Rom 8:35-39; Phil 1:29; Phil 2:17; Phil 2:18; Col 1:24; Jas 1:2; 1Pet 1:6; 1Pet 1:7; 1Pet 4:13; 1Pet 4:14

[Matt 5:10-12 ESV] ​“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ​“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. ​Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

[1Pet 4:13-16 ESV] But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

  • Thank you. Exactly at issue I believe is distinction between εὐδοκῶ (which Strongs leans toward 'think it good' and concordances/translations favour as 'well pleased' , implying a rational step) versus χαρὰν (which Strongs leans toward 'joy, gladness', which requires no thought step because it concerns emotion). So James could have used a form of εὐδοκῶ, but rather he used χαρὰν I believe meaning the joy to be instinctive or reflexive.
    – user59096
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 15:06
  • Updated question for clarification. Thank you, Michael16.
    – user59096
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 21:20

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