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’ve read those words from James 1 probably hundreds of times in my walk with Christ. But, reading these words in the season we are in, as the kids say, hits different. They carry more weight.
I’m not sure if James fully understood just how much his Spirit-inspired words would be used to bring comfort and courage to Christians both of his day and all the days until Jesus returned. Could he have possibly understood how far these words would echo forward for centuries? Even if he didn’t, surely the Holy Spirit understood.
Count it all joy. A reminder that our joy in Christ is a higher and holier alternative to happiness. Joy runs much deeper. Joy is more mature, and less fickle than happiness. Happiness is flighty, but joy is an ever-faithful friend to the faithful follower of Jesus.
When you meet trials. James does not consider suffering optional. Despite what the prosperity preachers tell you, valleys are a given for those who walk with the Lord. You may walk through many, or just a few in your life, but everyone who walks with the Shepherd will gets acquainted with the valleys. Christians are never guaranteed a life of ease. Suffering is part of sanctification. Jesus was clear on this: “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life…”
The testing of your faith produces steadfastness. Jesus did not promise us a path free FROM trouble, but we do have a promise THROUGH trouble. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
I’m not sure where your path is these days. Maybe you’re on the mountaintop and all is well. Perhaps you are in green pastures and life is good.
But, if not. If your way happens to be hard lately. If your view seems only to be in the valley presently.
Then, may you not forget Jesus’ words…or James’.
Remain steadfast in your total trust in Him. May you continue to have full faith in His presence, unrelenting belief in His goodness, and blessed assurance that He is still with you…always.
Whatever troubles, trials, or tribulations you’re facing, no matter how big they are, are temporary. They too will pass. They will fade away like the morning fog which burns away in the light of the sun. And what will remain will be a disciple with an even stronger, deeper, and more mature faith in Christ.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
Pure joy indeed.