Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2-3)
How would you respond to the following situations?
- Your little girl has the flu, keeping both you and her up all night.
- Your 401k is tanking and it appears that you won’t be able to retire until age 144.
- A highway accident backs up traffic for two miles and you’re bringing up the rear.
- You’re diagnosed with chronic arthritis.
- You discover that your mother has terminal cancer.
Let me tell you how I would be tempted to respond. Complaining. Ranting. Raging against God. Demanding better. Throwing a colossal self-pity party. I don’t like trials. Not big ones or small ones.
But then I read James and find myself confronted with what appears to be the counsel of a madman. But it’s not. It’s the command and counsel of the living God. I’m to count all trials (that’s all in case you missed it) as all joy.
I’m to count every trial as joy. Not just the big, life-crisis, call-all-the-family trials. Even the little, I-can’t-believe-my-son-just-puked-again trials.
Why? Because trials test my faith. Tested faith is steadfast faith. Steadfast faith doesn’t waver in the face of trials. It doesn’t quiver at the prospect of three months without pay, or three weeks in the hospital, or three days of the chicken pox. Steadfast faith is confident in the extravagant goodness of God and his unwavering faithfulness.
Trials are a fire that harden and temper my faith. That’s why I’m to count them as all joy. God is using every difficulty – from diaper rashes to chronic illnesses – to draw me deeper into him.
As you go to work, or homeschool your kids, or lay sick in bed, let this truth encourage and comfort you. All trials, all joy.