Count it All, Joy!

Count it All, Joy!

Sounds good but exactly how do we do that when life goes very wrong? When our hearts are broken? When we’re hard pressed on every side?

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Platitude or Precept?

James 1:2 says this?

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” (James 1:2 NKJV).

The living bible translation puts it this way…

“Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy,” (James 1:2 TLB).

No matter how you slice and dice it, when you’re in the midst of a storm…

This verse makes about as much sense as a submarine with a screen door!

That is until you roll up your sleeves and dive into its true meaning.

James 1:2 is a Christian 2 step dance lesson through the tough stuff of life that is an inevitable consequence of living in a fallen world. He’s giving us the secret sauce of living the abundant life regardless of circumstances.

This is a hard verse to grasp when you’re grasping at straws. So before we go any further, let’s take a moment and invite God to open our hearts and minds to hear what He wants us to hear.

Lord Jesus, we ask that you would open up your word to us so we can clearly understand it and apply it to our lives. We ask for your special grace on those that are in the midst of a storm right now and are struggling. We ask In Christ’s precious name. Amen.

You Are Not Alone

One of the most profoundly effective schemes of the devil is to make us feel like we are the only one on the planet going through what we’re going through. Dare I say, especially in Christian circles?

James sets the record straight by addressing all of us. He said, “My brethren.” My Christian brothers and sisters, family, fellow travelers, we are all in the same boat together. The details of our struggles may differ, but be sure of this, we all struggle.

Need more convincing? Notice James goes on to say, “When you fall into various trials.” He didn’t say “if.” Trials are a byproduct of living in a fallen world. Believers are not immune to them.

I like Peter’s reminder to us,

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;” (1 Peter 4:12 NKJV).

In this world you are not alone and we are not immune to any number of fiery trials?

Burying a child.

Hearing your spouse say, “I’m leaving you.”

Losing a job.

Dealing with mental illness.

Struggling with addiction.

Pleading with prodigals.

Being a victim of crime.

Random accidents.

Cancer.

Cowardly acts of terrorism.

Abuse.

Just to name a few.

This morning I found out that one of my neighbors, a woman about my age, died very suddenly earlier this week. She leaves behind a husband and two teenage daughters. As I think about the gut wrenching grief they’re experiencing, I am beyond sad. If I put myself in their shoes, I would imagine the fog has settled in, bringing with it a dense layer of confusion, despair, and fear. Joy is nowhere on the radar. It’s time to start counting.

James 1:2. James 1:2. James 1:2.

Count What All Joy?

James tells us “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” and goes on to say in the following verse, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Here’s what James is not telling us to count as all joy — the fiery trial itself. We don’t count addiction as all joy. We don’t count loss as all joy. We don’t count disease as all joy. No! James is telling us to count on something happening in us as a result of the trial – count that as all joy! He tells us it’s going to produce something in us. It’s going to help us grow up in our faith. It’s going to stretch us and mature us in our faith. It’s going to take us to a place of knowing (to your bones as Beth Moore likes to say), that His grace is sufficient for everything and anything that comes our way. It’s going to help us fall in love more deeply and more intimately with our risen Savior. Isn’t that what we signed up for? Isn’t that why we take up our cross daily?

We say we want our lives to count. We say we’ll follow Christ wherever He leads us. We pray, not my will but Thy will be done. We say we want to be more like Christ. We ask for more boldness. We beg for our lights to burn brighter. And so we count.

James 1:2. James 1:2. James 1:2.

The Greek verb used for count is Hegeomai. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, it primarily signifies “to lead;” then, “to consider.” It is where we get our word “accounting”. Now see it in context.

James isn’t asking us to ignore our feelings. That would be inhumane. He’s asking us to take charge over them. We lead our feelings; they don’t lead us. Enter in the fruit of self-control.

We lead and then we consider. Before we give into despair we consider the change in us that is promised as we share in Christ’s sufferings. I consider or count how this trial, as painful as it is, will draw me closer to Christ and make me more effective for His kingdom.

God doesn’t prescribe bad things to happen to us in an effort to create good outcomes. Bad things happen because we live in a bad world. But hear this, God doesn’t waste a thing.

He knows how to squeeze something good out of the things that squeeze us if we let Him.

So like a good accountant we tap into the logical side of our brains. We put our accountant hat on and create a balance sheet. We sort through our shoebox of life’s receipts. We put our pain and grief in the liability column. We put our patience and spiritual maturity in the asset column. We see both sides of the equation, we feel both sides, we experience both sides, and we press on.

And with that the fog lifts a little. It’s doesn’t disappear altogether, at least not yet. Glorious rays of hope begin to filter down from Heaven – just enough to move us forward. With one foot in front of the other we forge ahead.

James 1:2. James 1:2. James 1:2.

Who Counts?

In one of my earlier posts, “When You Love an Addict,” I shared my own fiery trial over my son’s drug addiction. It’s been over five years since I learned of his addiction. When I recall how I felt when I first learned my son was an addict, I would have probably punched you in the mouth if you quoted James 1:2 to me.

“My son could die from this disease.”

“Count it all joy.”

“Worry is making me physically sick.”

“Count it all joy.”

“I haven’t slept in days.”

“Count it all joy.”

“My son could be that kid on the corner begging.”

“Count it all joy.”

“I mean like he could be dead on the street and people act like they don’t see him.”

“Count it all joy.”

Really?! You’d want to punch them too!

The person that tries to count for you?

a. Doesn’t understand the verse
b. Has never experienced a trial greater than losing their cell phone
c. Is incredibly uncomfortable with your pain
d. All of the above

This verse isn’t ours to quote to someone in pain. It’s reserved for Jesus. In His perfect timing, our Wonderful Counselor hand delivers this message to our hearts from His heart, stamped with His own nail pierced hands. Special delivery from the host of heaven when we are ready to receive it.

I can’t count for you. I can only share how it’s added up for me. I’ve drawn closer to Christ. I’ve stayed in His Word. I’ve experienced despair but I’ve refused to succumb to despair. I’m now helping people going through similar problems. I feel stronger in my faith than I’ve been before. I have hope. I believe with all my heart that God’s grace is sufficient for me. I know because I’ve experienced it for myself. I’ve been wounded by life’s fiery darts but I’m still standing. I’ve grown stronger. You will too.

Hang in there dearly loved sister. When you’re ready, ask Jesus to lead you on to the dance floor. Take His hand and let Him lead you in this Christian 2 step.

James 1:2. James 1:2. James 1:2.

And I’ll close with this?

“Those who walk the fields to sow, casting their seed in tears,
will one day tread those same long rows, amazed by what’s appeared.
Those who weep as they walk
and plant with sighs
Will return singing with joy,
when they bring home the harvest.” (Psalm 126:5-6 Voice)

What a picture! What a hope! What a promise!

Want to go deeper on today’s topic? Download the study guide.

Someone may need to hear your story. What have you counted all joy as a result of going through the hard stuff of this life? Leave a comment below and

Don’t Forget to Share the Joy!

Faith

One comment

  1. Sandy Jouse says:

    Such very precious thoughts put to paper. I thank the Holy Spirit for giving them to you to give freely to your many readers. I have often found speaking from the heart is not easy to put into words but I truly believe He gave you these precious words Stephanie. Thank you for sharing them.
    Sandy

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