Friday, July 31, 2015

Count It All Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3 (NIV)

Count it all joy… James 1:2-3 (NKJV)

What does it mean to “count it all joy?”

To respond to difficulties with joy seems absurd. James knows this, and so in verse 3 he offers his answer to our natural question: Why should we rejoice in the face of trials? He doesn’t say if you face trials, but whenever you face them. He assumes that we will have trains and that it is possible to profit from them. The point is not to pretend to be happy when we face pain, but to have a positive outlook (“consider it pure joy”) because of what trials can produce in our lives. James tells us to turn our hardships into times of learning. Tough times can teach use perseverance.

Trials have a purifying quality; they are the arena in which and the process through which something good develops. Here in James is a parallel to the Hebrew idea that testing can result in purification even if it is the result of a person’s natural impulse to sin (yeṣer ha-ra).

Trials can have this effect as a result of the means of “testing” (dokimion). The root of this word means “approved character,” so we can see the close link between the testing and its intended result.

We cannot really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure. It’s easy to be kind to others when everything is going well, but we can we still be kind when others are treating us unfairly? God wants to make us mature and complete, not to keep us from all pain. Instead of complaining about our struggles, we should see them as opportunities for growth. Thank God for promising to be with you in rough times. Ask Him to help you solve your problems or to give you the strength to endure them. Then be patient, God will not leave you alone with your problems, He will stay close and help you grow.

Other verses to consider:

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. Romans 2:7 (NIV)

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;   perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV)



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