By: Dr. Kit Flowers, CVM President
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” –James 1:2-4
As I write this, my life is in a good place. I feel close to the Lord, my health is good, I have a loving and caring wife and family, and I work with an amazing team of people who are purposed to hear from God and obey His calling. It is pretty easy today, to consider it all joy! Wait a minute, can I really say there are not various trials around me? I have close friends living with the challenge of serious illness. I need only to listen to the news and know that our world is in difficult times. I do not have to think very long before I remember close friends who are in places of personal conflict with others. My mind can then go to my own “various trials” of the past. I have to consider it all joy today. Each and every day.
How about you? Are you able today to consider it all joy?
God speaks to each of us through the apostle James. As he starts this book of the Bible, he has hardly said hello and then gives the charge, “Consider it all joy.” We do have times in our lives when we need this charge from God’s word. In the midst of the “various trials” of life we quickly turn from the Lord and His work in our hearts and lives. We rely on our own strength or we turn to depression and self-pity. Have you ever considered that our response to a trial may in fact be the best indicator of His Lordship in our lives and our purposed submission to His will? We are able to consider it all joy when in fact we are in a deep place of trust and faith in Jesus Christ.
How do you define joy?
In a study on joy in the past year I found the following definition of biblical joy by Kay Warren particularly meaningful:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation. “
Our definition of joy in fact may be a good measure of our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives. Consider some of the words from this definition. In your particular trial, do you have a settled assurance that God is in control? What is your first reaction to a trial? Do you turn to the Lord in prayer? Do you purpose to find time in His word to find strength, wisdom, and discernment? Do you have friends and mentors you share with such that with the Holy Spirit working through all of these things you come to a place of quiet confidence? Such steps bring you to the place of quiet confidence. And in this place the amazing transformation of our hearts turns to worship and praise, even in the hardest trial. We move from the focus on the trial to the determined choice to praise God in every situation.
“Sometimes you make choices and sometimes choices make you.” Gayle Forman
We know from real time life experience that trials come. Sometimes they are big and sometimes rather small, but indeed they always come. We have a choice of how to respond. We are asked by the Lord to consider it all joy. The Greek word translated consider means to value highly or to esteem. Not sure that this definition has always been evidenced in my efforts to consider various trials with all joy. This understanding brings us to a place of realizing that is more than just getting through a trial, but to highly value the time as our faith drives us to endurance and endurance then brings a perfecting work in each of us.
Jesus himself prayed for us as these choices come. Listen to His words in John 17.
“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.” –John 17:13
His work on the cross made it possible to live in the fullness of His joy. His joy made full in us. Because of His going before us, we are able to consider it all joy in the various trials of our lives. Another definition of joy struck a chord with me.
Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope. (www.Theopedia.com)
His work of redemption on the cross, allows us to have a joyful state of mind. We then must orient our hearts for this to be a reality.
Do you feel you more often draw near to God in times of difficulty or of joy?