The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
“Count is all joy” … okay, that sounds good.
“My brothers” … I like the sound of that!
“When you meet trials of various kinds” … Wait! What?
Can we just go back to the counting it joy part? Why did James have to say “when things are hard”? Maintaining joy when things are calm or at peace is no problem, but maintaining joy when difficult arises is problematic.
David Brainerd, a missionary in the 1700’s has inspired many people with his writings as a man who suffered and worshipped at the same time. His father died when he was fourteen; his mother died when he was nineteen; he battled tuberculosis off and on during his life; he suffered from depression at times; he often went hungry; he wrote in his diary on twenty-two occasions that we wanted death. He lived in James 1:2-4.
Brainerd once wrote, “Such fatigues and hardship as these serve to wean me more from the earth; and, I trust, will make heaven the sweeter. Formerly, when I was thus exposed to cold, rain, etc., I was ready to please myself with the thoughts of enjoying a comfortable house, a warm fire, and other outward comforts; but now these have less place in my heart through the grace of God and my eye is more to God for comfort. … Blessed be God that he makes the comfort in me, under my sharpest trials; and scarce ever lets these thoughts he attended with terror or melancholy; but they are attended frequently with great joy.”
Who says that? Why would someone conclude that? James 1:2-4 has an answer.
You ever wonder what James 1:2-4 is instructing us about. Here is how it reads, “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.”
In essence, James say the objective of trials is not destruction but construction. They are not to be viewed as bad but a blessing. They reveal where you are in the faith.
Each of these three verses give us a prescription for how we can view a trial as a blessing.
- Vs. 12 – Trials are a blessing when we maintain our joy. The joy isn’t in the immediate pain but the result of the trial and what is produces. Jesus told us, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12).
- Vs. 13 – Trials are a blessing when you anticipate growth. Trials will produce something. They will grow us. Paul’s thorn in the flesh (II Cor 12:1-10) taught him about the sufficiency of God’s grace. It was a lesson he, presumably, would not have learned without the trial.
- Vs. 14 – Trials are a blessing when you preserve through them. Since God uses trials for good purposes (Rom 8:28), we need to embrace them. We ought not to be reluctant when the trial arrives. I have a friend who got some bad news yesterday. He was sad. He was down. When I think about him, I think about the challenge of facing the uncertainty before him. I think about his trial. And as often is the case, we don’t always know what to tell our friends when they seem to face trials. But I do know this, God’s Word is sufficient and it always tells us what we need to hear.
I have a friend who got some bad news yesterday. He was sad. He was down. When I think about him, I think about the challenge of facing the uncertainty before him. I think about his trial. And as often is the case, we don’t always know what to tell our friends when they seem to face trials.
But I do know this, God’s Word is sufficient and it always tells us what we need to hear.