by Brandy Webb
I am part of a small women’s Bible study that just started. I did miss the first meeting because my daughter and I had head colds. Spring is great but not great on the sinuses. Well, we are studying the book of James. James happens to be one of my favorite books of the Bible. All the books are great and very important, but for some reason James stands out for me.
Anyway, an ironic moment happened, or you could call it a “God moment.” My husband and I are going through some trials, nothing huge, just some health trials. A few nights ago, I told him that I just wanted to feel joy. I am one of those that have a tendency to be on the melancholy side when I face a trial, even though I know that God has always been there for us. I am definitely not the person that looks at life through rose colored glasses. No, unfortunately, I seem to look at life through a negative enhancing magnifying glass sometimes. I understand that it is a wrong way of looking at things, but bad habits are hard to break.
So, I told him that I really wanted to have more joy. I am striving to learn to be joyful in all circumstances and to have a positive magnifying glass outlook on life. Last night, though, it hit me, James 1:2-3. In fact, I have the two verses basically memorized.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1:2-3, NIV).
I want to go further through the rest of James’ point because it explains so much.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (James 1:4-7, NIV).
Trials are in every person’s life, and I realize it is not easy to “count it all joy” when we are going through a trial. I know it is really joyful when the trial is over. However, we are to be joyful even during the trial. I believe in order to do this we must focus on what the trial is working in us, rather than the trial itself. Trials build in us perseverance, endurance, steadfastness, and patience. These are all synonyms of the Greek word hupomoné, which is used here.
We have to have these qualities inside us to become “mature and complete” Christians that finish the race and make it to the Kingdom of God. James does point out that if we lack wisdom, and since it is in the same chain of thoughts here, I assume he is meaning wisdom of the meaning of the trial; or how to overcome the trial; or what we are to learn from the trial, etc., then we need to ask God to give us wisdom. Yet, there is a warning: When we ask for wisdom we cannot doubt that God will give it to us. The doubting will keep us from receiving the wisdom.
I am coming to the understanding that if I want to be more joyful, I must diligently watch how I react when facing a trial. Do I complain? Do I become overwhelmingly fearful and anxious? Do I become angry at God? Or do I stand tall knowing that God is there helping me to get through the tough times? Thankfully, I know that if at first I go through the first three, God understands. He is a big God. David went through all the negative emotions before ending on trusting in God, and he was called a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). I just want to work on limiting the time spent on the negative emotions and spend more time in the arms of Christ trusting His judgment and His strength to see me through.
We all desire to grow in Christ. Well, if this is what we want, then we must accept that in order to grow, trials will happen. We can’t grow by getting everything we want. We can look at Israel to see that doesn’t work. In fact, getting everything we want may be the one major thing that makes us fall short. He wants us to rely on Him, and I know from my own life, my reliance is definitely stronger when things aren’t going so well. Therefore, I am going to strive to “count it all joy” when I face various trials because the trials are doing a good work within me.