In this passage, James shows us the importance of developing true faith in God. He's suggesting here that while you may have put your faith in God, your faith is still something that can be grown and strengthened through the hard times in life. He says in verse 3 that one day, perseverance through the difficult times will finish it's work and you will be complete, not lacking anything.
One thing that is essential to understanding this passage is this: You must believe God when He says that He is good to you and for you. This matters because what God is inviting us into through this passage is a life where we persevere, and then one day overcome the troubles of this world simply because we put our faith in Him. If we don't yet desire the things God desires, such as building character, overcoming sin, we may misunderstand what these verses mean about Him. God says to "consider it pure joy [...] whenever you face trials" because He knows that there is unexplainable freedom, peace and joy that can only be understood when it had to be fought for. We must trust that encountering the spirit of God in these ways will be some of the best moments we have on earth, otherwise, we will read these verses and believe that God just wants us to experience difficulty without joy.
So if you're in a trial right now, rejoice! You are beginning a battle that God is fighting with you. You are working to overcome lies you believe, release sin you haven't let go of, and/or grow in character. If you're not going through a trial right now, rejoice! The Lord is also growing you. During the times of peace in your own life, you will often find yourself surrounded by people who need the peace of God, and you get to be used by God to bring that to people.
Lord, thank You for the place I'm in right now. I trust that You are in charge of my life. I want to know You more and trust that Your heart is for me even when I don't understand my circumstances. I pray that I get to experience You more during this time and I pray that You place people around me that have similar troubles so that we can minister to one another. I love you, Father. Amen.
- Michele Houston