22 – Count It All Joy
What was James thinking when he told us to “count it all joy” when we encounter trials? How can trials and struggles bring us joy? Well, in a way you never imagined!
James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
We first need to talk about what this isn’t saying:
- The Bible is NOT telling us to be happy. Happiness and joy are two very different things. Happiness is temporary, joy is a foundation. Happiness is based on circumstances, joy is based on trust.
- “Pure joy, or “all joy,” is meant in terms of intensity—as in unalloyed or complete, and it’s not meant to be exclusive. James is not saying we should have no response other than joy. We’re not commanded to never be saddened by difficulties. But he is saying there is also occasion for this pure, unalloyed joy, a deeper joy, in the midst.
The way to start finding this deeper joy is to fix our focus on God’s purpose for traumas and trials. Under the strain of trails, we get a clearer picture of our faith. It shows its true colors. And that’s a gift.
What Are the Joys?
1. When we lose those things – our health, our job, our home – it helps us understand what we truly value…and what is secondary. So that’s part of the gift, part of the joy that James is talking about. These trials make us drill down into our values and learn what really matters to us.
2. Trials equip us to minister to others. They make us tender and gentle. The deep places we endure aren’t necessarily about us! God uses these times to refine us, to tenderize us, and to help us use our own experiences to help others. And that is another joy. We can rest in the truth that NOTHING is wasted with God. Not only that, but with every trial and struggle, we can know that God is going to use it to make us better able to minister to others. Together we all help each other. We uplift each other. This is the true community of suffering. That as we suffer, we are open and vulnerable and willing to let God use even this very deep place to love others.
3. The crucible of suffering produces endurance. The testing in these trials isn’t to see if we have faith, but to purify that which already exists. It’s the process of refining silver or gold, and that refining produces endurance. We learn to remain faithful to God over the long haul because of the difficulties we suffer.
4. Endurance produces spiritual integrity for us as believers. Not just for us personally, but for the community. We can’t forget that we’re not just a community of suffering, but we’re also a community that is the bride of Christ. While we suffer now, we need to remember where we’re going with all this. The end game is the bride being perfected and living eternally to glorify God.
What can we do today to start considering it all joy?
- Step back and understand the point of it all. Take a breath. And don’t try to pretty it up. Be honest with God and with others about what you’re feeling and struggling with.
- Remember that it’s okay to struggle and sob. We’re not commanded to feel only joy. But we still need to keep the truth of God’s purpose tucked into our heart so that grief doesn’t turn to despair.
- Focus on the truth of God’s character. KNOW Him. With every doubt or spark of anger at Him, test it by sharing it with Him and with those you know will speak truth to you. Go ahead and feel your feelings…but don’t make the mistake of using those feelings as a basis for making decisions or deciding what is and isn’t true. You can’t trust feelings. But you can trust the foundation of biblical truth.
- Ask for God’s help in revealing His perspective of us as He refines us. God’s purposes will be achieved, but His way, not our way. He’s going to work His purpose in us, not our purpose. We aren’t meant to be comfortable in this life. This life is a shadow of things to come. Shadows aren’t made to be grasped. We can’t hold on so hard to what we think life should be that we miss the reality of what awaits.
- Be willing to share the truth of the deep place with others. They may seem, on the surface, to have it all together. But as often as not, those “not a care in the world” people are as raw and ragged as you, and they need to know they’re not alone.
Books mentioned during the podcast:
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What is your biggest struggle in counting your trials all joy?