The "Trying": James 1:3
Previous verse: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptation.
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
What does it mean for our faith to be tried? Let's consult Mirriam Webster . . .
Try: to examine or investigate judicially; to conduct the trial of; to subject to something (as undue strain or excessive hardship or provocation) that tests the powers of endurance; to purify, refine; to melt down and procure in a pure state; to fit or finish with accuracy.
It's a loaded definition with lots of angles from which to look at faith, but a few ideas stood out to me that gave me some new things to think about.
Examine/investigate~ God wants to find out more about my faith. He is probing its depths, searching out my strengths and weaknesses and measuring the height, width, and depth of my commitment to and belief in Him.
Trial~ Will my faith stand in God's "court"? Will the evidence of my life prove it strong and steadfast, or weak and shallow?
Subject~ I like this one—the idea that the trying of my faith is an exercise in humility, requiring me to submit to God's will in my life over mine.
Purify/refine~ By definition, "to clean from material defilement or imperfection; to free from moral or ceremonial blemish; to free from undesirable elements; to become pure or clean". God is making me purer, cleaner, and more perfect through this trial.
Finish~ God is using this trial to COMPLETE me, to finish His "perfect work" in me. (Phil. 1:6)
The trying of our faith is not God's cruel attempt to bring us down or watch us fall apart; it's not His punishment for something we've done or the retribution for all the ways we fall short of His glory. James shows us the opposite, the true meaning behind the trying of our faith. God uses trials to cleanse us, to refine us of blemishes and spiritual imperfections, to bring us closer to completion and to the image we are striving for—the image of Christ.
We don't need to fear trials, but we do need to endure them, with the kind of faith that will stand as evidence of Christ Jesus dwelling in us.
Mish, Frederick C. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. 9th ed., Merriam-Webster Inc., 1983.