This thing called joy
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Tune into the news any given day and you’ll see and hear all kinds of things happening. We live in a broken world and people are hurting everywhere and reacting in many broken ways. It’s easy and even justified to feel angry, sad and depressed. The Bible however tells us to count all the trials we go through as joy. The author of the book of James is believed to have been Jesus’ brother James so you know he saw all kinds of things. Many things including his brother being crucified, attacks on his family and persecution and yet he says to count it all joy because if you let it all do its work, at the end you will be complete.
But that’s not fair! I think the key is to understand that God can use all things for His glory including the bad things that happen to you. This is tricky because how do you say God is good and yet He allows bad things to happen to us? It’s especially hard to understand when our loved ones die or suffer through cancer.
My best answer is that this is a broken world that has adverse consequences including pain, sickness and death. It also helps to remember that this was not the world God planned for us from the beginning but He has given us ways to make the best out of it including the painful parts while preparing a much better place for us (John 14:3).
One, two, three, four, count it all joy. Yes even when it feels sucky, even when you’re unemployed but you desperately want work, even when you get into an accident and have to go to hospital. Whatever it is, plant God in it as Lord and watch Him do His mighty work.
But how do you do that really? Well if we believe that all things are truly working for our good then we have to look for that good in every situation. There’s always a rainbow in the storm. Did you apply for leave for some ‘me time’ and then all of a sudden your kids have to go to emergency? The rainbow is that now you are able to be there with them instead of worrying at work. Did you all of a sudden come into some money and now your mum’s ill? Use that money to take care of her and thank the Lord for providing. Are you in hospital after a ghastly accident and have to relearn how to walk? Now you get a chance to learn new things and rethink life perhaps. That’s how you count joy.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, it looks like there’s no joy in a situation then in a case like that, I would say speak to God about it. Cry to Him and ask Him for answers and let Him speak. He can handle your pain and He can handle your anger, He can speak to whatever the situation is.
We can’t avoid the consequences of living in a fallen world but holding on to God the only solid rock gives us the strength and grace to go through the storms and come out victorious. It also guards our minds against worrying about the many uncertainties of this world by holding on to the only certain One.
Count it all joy my sister and count some more. If you're struggling right now to count, I say a prayer for you.
Please feel free to email me if you need help counting.
God is with you