Of the twenty or so references to perseverance in the New Testament, one quarter are found in this short letter written by James. It’s clear that the Christians James was writing to were going through difficult times.
The word perseverance contains within it the acknowledgement that what is passed through is difficult and hard; that giving up or giving in would be easier. In this verse James is explicit, referring to trials and tests. Sometimes when we suffer we think this shouldn’t happen to Christians. James reminds us, and reassures us, that suffering is a reality for Christians.
So why persevere? Why keep going, when it involves suffering? Why shouldn’t we just give up? Well, says James, it’s because of what Jesus has promised us: a crown of life. Moreover, as we endure suffering and persevere, James says we are blessed by God.
When we are passing through difficult times, there is always the temptation to give up on God; to let go of him and try to take hold of something else. But victory, and salvation, scripture reminds us, come from holding onto God, of not letting go, no matter what we are passing through. As we do this God provides: blessing us in the present, and sustaining our hope for the future.