Does James suggest that the trails of life are to be seen as “gifts” from God? That they are to be converted from trial into “catacombs” of conversion? Notice these words and read them in the context of James 1:2-4:
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every
good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the
heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James jumps ahead of some ideas — not mentioning that God is good or that everything happens somehow within the circle of God’s permission (at least). Once we accept those assumptions of James, it appears that he thinks the trials of life, when met with perseverance and with seeking God’s wisdom, will lead to character and spiritual formation and are therefore gifts from a good God.
There is another way of seeing this: the “gift” might be wisdom. Notice these:
1:17: Every good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down…
3:15: Such wisdom does not come down from above.
3:17: But the wisdom from above.
Either way, the trials of life are to be received as gifts from God — for their character-forming power — or one’s request of wisdom from God, which is received, is a good gift.