Focus on the Outcome
James says we are to view our trials as “all joy” (James 1:2). Two considerations make that possible. First, they bring the temporal benefit of improved character; they actually help us in this life. Second, they lead to an eternal blessing. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (v. 12).
The Bible speaks of two different kinds of crowns. One is a diadem, a kingly crown. Jesus wears multiple diadems, reflecting his infinite kingly majesty (Revelation 19:12). The other crown is the victor’s crown, the kind given to a warrior returning from a successful campaign or the winner of a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). This crown was also worn for ornamental purposes, as an adornment; in that sense Paul spoke of brethren as “my joy and my crown” (Philippians 4:1; cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:19).
Eternal life is our crown. It is what the Lord promised to those who love Him more than anyone or anything else. It indicates victory over our trials, success in running our race. It is a crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4), a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). Our success, of course, is not on our own; all credit goes to the Lord who strengthens and sustains us. In the throne scene of Revelation 4, the twenty-four elders cast down their crowns before God’s throne as a tribute to Him. He is the powerful ruler. He is the one who empowers us to overcome!
James reminds us, then, to look beyond our immediate circumstances. Focus on the outcome. Paul concurred. “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).