“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:1-4 KJV
I have heard people say, “Never pray for patience, or God will send you trials.”
Perhaps people say such things as just a joke, or maybe they have believed a false doctrine that God works that way. Trials come because you and I live in a fallen world with sin, sickness, war, and ignorance, a world under temporary dominion of the prince of this world, Satan. The earth itself is groaning, awaiting our full redemption.
So, just why does James encourage me to “count it all joy?” I believe it’s because the trials that the devil sends for evil, God works together for my good, having predestined me to be conformed to the image of His dear Son. I can “count it all joy” because I am given the amazing opportunity to demonstrate that in Christ I am already counted victorious over any trials the world, the flesh or the devil can throw at me.
But… if I’m not firmly grounded in God’s Word and I’m walking in the flesh, I can sometimes forget that, and listen to Satan’s lies and temptations — “You don’t deserve these trials. It’s just not fair. You should be terribly afraid of what’s happening. You should complain a lot about the pain you are having to endure.”
When I listen to Satan, I murmur and complain like the children of Israel did in the wilderness, and I miss the blessing of following God’s path to victory.
Conversely, joy comes when I recognize the lies of Satan and declare, “You are wrong, Satan! I deserve so much more than these trials. I deserve hell. So, Satan, I no longer fear the trials you send because my greatest fear has been removed by Jesus. Because I’m forgiven of my sin, hell and death hold no torment for me. Satan, I am so consumed with gratitude for what Christ has done for me, I refuse to let you steal my joy today.”
My pastor Jeff says, “Once you have an answer for death, anything else becomes bearable.” I think he’s right. All other trials provide an opportunity to praise God for his mercy and his grace.
This morning the sun came up again, and it was beautiful. Mockingbirds sang in the trees, and I watched a baby dove learn to fly.
God is good all the time, and today I rejoice that all is well with my soul.