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
I have to admit that I don’t really jump up and down with joy whenever I’m facing, or being faced-down, by trials of many kinds. Or any kind, for that matter. Considering it pure joy has not exactly been my very first, nor my most natural, response to the evil and brokenness, problems and frustrations, disappointments and difficulties – the trials of many kinds – I’ve experienced in my life.
However, I do know that God’s Word is true. And God’s Word is living and active, powerful and transforming. So, there’s got to be something to this “consider it pure joy” craziness, right? Even if considering it pure joy is outrageously challenging and completely unnatural, right?
Yes. To both of those questions.
Whenever we choose to do things according to God’s way – or perceive and think about things in God’s way – there is always something deep and beautiful, powerful and peaceful for us. Probably the deepest and most beautiful, powerful and peaceful thing we could ever receive, as we follow God’s ways for our actions and thoughts, is a growing sense of intimacy in our relationship with our Lord. And, specifically, as we trust God and choose, albeit challenging and unnatural, to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds, we will also be beautifully, powerfully and peacefully blessed as we grow in Christ-like perseverance.
It is so important that we understand that our God does not tell us to consider our trials of many kinds as pure joy. That would be ludicrous. Because “God is love” (1 John 4:8); and “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).
Rather, our loving, holy and sovereign God tells us to consider it pure joy whenever we face these trials of many kinds. It is because of who our God is that we can consider all of our “whenevers” as pure joy – always. Our God is “Immanuel – God with us” (Matthew 1:23). God’s Word gives us this sure promise: “the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). And our risen, victorious Lord Jesus declares, out of His love for us and His authority over all that exists, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Trusting that our God is who He claims to be – trusting that our God is with us right in the midst of the mess, and trusting that our God is able to conquer all the crushing blows of life as He intimately, lovingly transforms us into people of perseverance – enables us to consider all of our “whenevers” as pure joy. Even when our “whenevers” find us facing evil and brokenness, problems and frustrations, disappointments and difficulties.
No! Our God is not asking us to consider our trials of many kinds as pure joy. Our God is asking us to consider Him, consider our relationship with Him, and consider the transforming results in our lives that come through God’s great love for us – in this case, a Christ-like perseverance – always as pure joy! Whenever!