“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” James 1:2 (ESV)
Is this Good?
You know what? Sometimes I’m not good.
There was a time not too very long ago that I was sitting at my kitchen table. It was early morning and my coffee was divine! But it was raining for like the 10th day in a row. You all might remember this time – it was the Spring of 2019, and many of the farmers in Michigan couldn’t get the crops planted.
So, we worried. We worried about how the farmers and their families would be sustained. We worried about the food prices going sky high because there would be limited availability – not enough to feed the animals, not enough to feed us. In the middle of that, I was fighting a personal battle – and on that particular day, the dampness of the early morning wouldn’t let me forget my reality.
Many of you may face something similar. Is anyone here ever tired? The kind of tired that makes the floor look really comfortable, and you could just lay down and nap!
Is anyone else aching or hurting? So many are suffering with chronic pain, inflammation, unexplained hurts. Looking fantastic on the outside but crumbling on the inside.
Are you as unsure as I have been? Will I have a flare-up today? What is causing all of this? WHY?! Will there be another flare-up because this weather will just not subside?
Will the gray of the day swallow up my body and mind?
Will I be able to withstand another dismal day?
In times like this, I am wiped out! I feel like there is not even one spark of joy left in me.
How in the world can anyone be joyful amid sadness, despair, and hurt?
And as I sat in my doubt, I realized that there was something to be remembered. In fact, when I think about the Book of James and the example of living a life of faith, I am reminded of the truth to which I cling.
Throughout these writings, James shares about genuine faith.
Right out of the gate He tells me to count it all joy when I meet trials (James 1:2). Through the testing of faith it will produce steadfastness. He tells this to me, and he tells this to you. God’s Word instructs us to:
- Ask for wisdom – it will always be given (James 1:5)
- Be decisive about our ask for wisdom, but be not wise in your own eyes (Proverbs 3:7)
- Be not deceived – for our hope does not rest in the things of this world, our hope rests in God (James 1:6)
James tells us that, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (1:17)
Trials, Temptations, & Choices
But sometimes we get confused, because we don’t understand how this “bad” thing that is happening could possibly be good?! We doubt – succumb to the temptations. However, there is a difference between trials and temptations: Trials are for testing, proving, growing pains – they are God allowed. Temptations on the other hand are distractions – enticements away from God toward self and even toward evil.
Genuine faith can be seen in the believer by the way they respond to temptation. We can respond like the Israelites who were led to the wilderness by Moses, were tested, tempted and failed. Or We can follow the example of Jesus Christ – led to the wilderness – tested, tempted, succeeds!
I so want to be like Jesus and yet I all too often succumb to the distractions. I want to live a life like Job – a man tested and tempted severely and yet, He professed to maintain his integrity. He held fast to righteousness and did not let it go. He sought wisdom by revering the Lord and turning away from evil.
Job was faced with choices – submit to his own will and pride or submit to the will of God amid trials.
I have the same choice…and so do you.
What is it that keeps us from submitting our will to God’s? We have an entire Bible that tells us exactly what God’s will is for us, who He is, and that our only hope is in Him – but we resist…I want CONTROL!!!!
But, honestly – the best control I can have is to give God my yes. I can do my best to use godly wisdom and to let God be God – He will do the rest.
And as I continued to sit and look out the window and pray for wisdom through my trials – in the middle of my yard, rain coming down, was a robin pulling a worm out of the ground – excited for this fine feast – a delight for his family.
As I looked further, the vibrant yellow daffodils contrasted against the dismal backdrop of the day – they were refreshed and renewed in the cool of the rain.
In the distance of the dark and dreary day were rays of sunlight (we like to call them Jesus rays in our house). It was as if God was whispering gently, remember, “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.” (1:12)
He says to let His light within us shine for His glory because He is our living hope (1 Peter 1:3; Matthew 5:14-16)
He tells us that His Spirit dwells in believers and when we cannot, He will (1 John 3:20-24).
And so my friends, He knows that we are tired, hurting, and unsure, yet He offers to raise up our dry bones – He refreshes and restores just as He made the Word flesh in Jesus Christ (John 1:6-16)
He brings the rain just as assuredly as he brought His Son.
Today, ladies, if you have put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior – I invite you to surrender the whole of your will to His and be refreshed and restored with this joy.
If you have never placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, I invite you to accept this free gift of eternal salvation. I would love to talk with you more about this, do not hesitate to reach out to me, a trusted friend, or pastor – don’t delay!