Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds– James 1:2, NIV
So, maybe if you are like me, there are a few Bible verses that I know and have memorized, but which give the most difficulty to follow. Like the one above from the Book of James. I first memorized the verse as “Count it all joy” I like the word consider better. But still. I really struggle to consider any type of trial as a reason for joy. James tells us why we should as he continues in verse 3; “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.…” Okay. I get it. Our modern version of the verse might read, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That part I understand. We go through trials and struggles and we get stronger. But counting it s joy is my struggle.
Another version of James 1 reads”My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”( NKJ) It always seems as if we are falling into trials. It is not something we desire, it just happens. And the word fall describes how I feel sometimes; like I am losing my footing; my security and falling into misery and a stress out state. It is difficult to feel joy when you are completely stressed out and anxious.
Struggles hit us all. Trials, as James writes. He knew then as we know now- human nature and its struggles hasn’t changed much- life is full of trials, struggles, and difficulties. We all could come up with a fairly long list of the stuff we have had to deal with in our lives. We surely can count those. But joy? I need to be deliberate about that one. Can I really count them and place them under the heading of “joy”?
But, what James was getting at is the opportunity that these struggles give us to draw closer to God. We are probably more drawn to prayer when we have problems we want help with. We get overwhelmed and cry out to God. As we call out to Him, we are placing more of our trust and faith in Him. We realize our struggles are more than we can bear on our own. When life is going well for us, we forget how much of that is not our own doing, but the grace of God. But, trials and struggles can be God’s grace as well if it draws us closer to Him. He desires this close relationship with us and wants to grow us into the people He created us to be; stronger when we are leaning on Him and fully focused on Him, and not on ourselves.
Trials and struggles will come and go in this life, and over the years I can look back and realize that during the most difficult times in my life are the times when I spent more time reading the Bible and praying and letting God grow and stretch my faith. We cannot escape the difficulties of this life, there is no way to avoid them. So for now I will keep trying to count them as joy, even when I don’t understand the joy yet. -God Bless You- Nancy