2009-05-27 - All Joy
James 1:2, 3, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
We are told to consider it all joy when we face trials of many kinds. Consider it pure joy, full joy, or as we have it here, all joy. We all know this isn't easy. And it is not like we go into our trials step-by-step - that's not the idea here - the idea here is that when we encounter trials of faith, the kind of trials where we are plunged in, like falling into a pit kind of trials - when there is no escaping them and they surround us - then we are to consider it all joy. This is not so easy. We all have trials. We all have struggles. But let us get this first point out clearly. The foundation of the blessing spoken of in verse 3 is here in verse 2. We have to consider it "all joy," when we encounter various trials.
One more thing to note here: Trials. Do you notice that the word here is plural? It is not trial, one trial we might endure and never think much about, but we are told here about trials. Our crosses seldom come singly, and it is good to remember. There are times when the bottom falls out on life, we push all the panic buttons - none of them doing anything - and we have to rest in the providence, love, kindness, compassion, and tender loving care of our gracious God. Trials come like troops in an army, one after another, wave after wave. Trials show what we are made of, and where we are really finding our hope. Faith proved by trial develops (verse 3) endurance. To use an illustration: when Boeing finishes making a new plane, there are all sorts of ground tests that it goes through to make sure it is built right. They do more than kick the tires to check it out, but all the ground testing in the world will not prove it can fly. It has to go through the process of lift-off into the air, to see if it can stand the test. If it does, it shows perseverance, or endurance, or proven character (all of these words are in mind in this verse) - but it has to be tested, not only by simple trials on the ground, but up in the sky. You know how to apply it. Are your trials proving your character to be worth the faith you profess?
Everyone has faith. Even the person who denies they have faith is making a statement of faith. The question for everyone concerns the truthfulness of our faith. Since we all have faith, really the matter is not, "Do you have faith," but rather, "Is the faith you have worth having?" For example, if you believe that there is no God, and that everything came about by chance, and the process of evolution - survival of the fittest - does this reality, that you are only more evolved than the spider, nesting in a corner of your house, that you kill - does this give you any hope or meaning? Such a faith seems more despairing than worth having. We should really try to give away that kind of faith if we have it, but nobody would take it. Christian faith is the only faith that gives eternal hope, meaning, and agrees with the Bible. It explains the awful human condition of sin, and it also provides the solution in Christ. We all have faith; that is a given. But it is only faith in Christ that gives hope, answers to life's struggles, and peace with the Living God. If you have this faith, I encourage you to seek to grow in it. If you don't, why not?
Soli Deo Gloria,