Here’s the KJV of James 1:1-3 (for NIV click this link)
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
In a time when servants were the dregs of society, and the church was filled with a majority of servants, and people would do anything to get out of servitude, it is interesting that James calls himself a servant. He willing takes on the title for Christ. Rather than a peripheral matter, the idea of class and social standing will feature prominently later in the letter.
Consider it joy when you are tempted/meet trials? Seriously? In a world where we are (still today) constantly trying to avoid anything unpleasant and, when it does come along, either get out of that situation as quickly as possible, or numb ourselves to the pain, we are reminded to count it joy (and joy to the fullest extent). If we need a silver lining, James tells us that it produces patience/perseverance. It makes us better people. When we pray for patience, we often expect God to just infuse this ineffable quality of patience into us. Here, we see a hint of how it actually works. When you need patience or perseverance, and we all do, God sends us situations where they are required. In the same way that one gets strong by performing activities that require (and temporarily wear down) our strength, so does patience come from exercising it.
Does reframing the difficult situations of life like this help? Do you consider it joy? Where does joy (real, deep felt) joy come from? What else does the bible say about joy? (for example, see Nehemiah 8:10)