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.
I have been blessed over the past month as our church has journeyed together through the small group series, Transformational Transitions: Walking with God in Seasons of Change. The weekly teaching on transition in conjunction with entering into the story of Ruth has been both challenging and encouraging to me.
In the second session of the small group series, the scripture studied was James 1:2-4. The passage was very familiar to me and so I think I subconsciously went into that week with the mindset of “I know this passage. I got this.” However, starting with Pastor Victor’s sermon and throughout the week, God confronted and challenged me anew with his living Word.
As I listened again to the truth in James 1:2-4, I asked myself, “Am I rejoicing over the current worries and troubles that are burdening my heart right now? Am I believing that God is using these things to build my faith and complete his work in me?” The answer to my questions was “No”. Yes, I was praying in the midst of my troubles but I did not believe in God’s good purposes for them. I primarily saw them as nuisances that I had to endure and get through rather than opportunities to grow and even flourish.
So why wasn’t I “counting it all joy”? It definitely was not because I hadn’t seen God do significant things in my life through the hardships and trials. The exact opposite was true. When I look back over my life, I see that God has done his most transforming work in my soul during times of suffering and pain. It has been in the hard and lonely times when the Lord has increased my empathy and love for others. It’s been in the dry and aimless times when he’s humbled my prideful soul and deepened my appreciation of friends and family. And it has been in the despairing times when he’s shown and confirmed to me his merciful, committed and enduring love for me in Christ. So why, after all these years of seeing him work good things in the midst of hardships was my attitude towards trials not changing?
This article is not going to end with a profound conclusion because I don’t know why my perspective was not changing even through I was experiencing the truth of James 1:2-4. But maybe this is why James wrote what he wrote. In verse 3, he writes, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness”. In other words, they knew the truth that James was telling them. They just needed to be reminded of it.
How about you? Are you like me and need to be reminded of what you already know? Count it ALL joy in the midst of every problem, trial and hardship you are suffering through today. Why? Because you know that our good and loving God is with you and he is works through our problems, trials and hardships to complete his glorious purposes in you and through you.