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
Count it all joy. Yep, you read that correctly. James straight up wrote, when you face various trials to do so joyfully.
I'm not sure about you, but that can be hard to do because let's be real- suffering sucks.
However, since this verse exists, we should look and see what's going on. As a Christian, we understand that we are not exempt from suffering or pain. But, what does it mean to Count it all joy? James isn't saying fake it until you feel it or hide how you're actually feeling. He's saying that when we go through trials, we should do so joyfully because ultimately it produces patience, endurance and a stronger faith. Our trials are not pointless. God knows all things and is working in every situation, even the most painful situations. We can count it all joy because we are being made more like Jesus.
Today, we are used to having what we want quickly. Hungry? Pop something in the microwave. Forgot to buy a gift? It's cool, Amazon Prime got you. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with microwaves or Amazon Prime. But, as a society, we are used to convenience, quick answers and shortcuts. Suffering doesn't come with an easy answer. You can't skip it or ignore it. You have to endure it.
When we face these trials and face moments of suffering, something crazy happens: our faith is tested and grown. Instead of seeing trials as bad things, we can look at them as opportunities to become more like Jesus. In those moments, when we turn to Jesus as our hope and endurance, we are able to fight another day.
It reminds me of Peter in Matthew 14:22-33. The disciples were chilling in a boat, they looked up and saw someone walking across the sea towards them. Now, they freaked out and thought it was a ghost, I mean who could blame them. But, Jesus called out to them saying, "Don't be afraid, it's me". Peter answered and said, "Jesus, if it's really you, command me to come out to you on the water". So Jesus told him to "Come". Peter got out of the boat and walked to Jesus on the water (trippy, I know). The wind started to blow and Peter began to sink. Obviously, that freaked Peter out and he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus reached out his hand, pulled him up and asked "Why did you doubt me?"
This story is a constant reminder that no matter my trial or situation, I have to keep my eyes on Jesus.
That's how we count it all joy through trials; we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus because Jesus is our joy. Our dependency must be on Christ alone, because anything else will fail us. When suffering comes, we are able to find joy through it because we depend on Jesus for rescue. The moment we start to depend on ourselves or others during the storm is the moment we begin to sink. When we take our eyes off Jesus, the things around us overcome and take us down.
So, who do you look to during trials and suffering? Cry out to Jesus and receive the joy and patience to endure.
by Emily LaGrone