Monday, April 09, 2007

How to Have Joy in Your Trials

It is very clear that we live in a fallen world. And as such we experience the consequences of that fallenness on a daily basis. As we will see, it manifests itself in various forms and by various degrees but all in a fashion, as Peter describes as “grievous” (1 Pet.1:6) and how we respond will determine if we have genuine saving faith or dead, demonic faith.

The writer of Hebrews describes the great men and women of faith in 11:36-38 as those who “had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”

Why? Because of their “faith” in the promises of God – His promise of a redeemer! Paul described his life as being “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Cor.4:8-9). He says all of this was so that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” This is what Jesus described to His disciples as “tribulation” in the world (John 16:33). Job said, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Why? Because of sin and because faith in Jesus Christ.

For the next few days I want to us to consider James 1:2-12. This section forms the unit of thought as James describes how we are to respond to life’s trials. This section is for believers because he begins by referring to them as “my brethren” in verse 2 and ends with describing them as “those who love Him” in verse 12.

In verses 2-12, God gives every believer the answer as to how they are to respond to trials. No matter their difficulty – we are to have the same response. No matter their timing, again, we are to have the same response to every trial. What attitude does James command from his readers in the midst of their trials? The answer is “joy” — “all joy.” He doesn’t say, “complain, murmur or become bitter.” He says to “rejoice.” This is not the natural, human response to trouble. That’s why it is commanded. Every trial that you encounter, you are to evaluate as a basis of joy.

The word “count” or “consider” is from the Greek verb hegeomai, which is an aorist imperative that calls every believer to “evaluate” their “experiences of testing as the grounds for ‘all joy’” (D. Edmond Hiebert, The Epistle of James). One writer says, “Don’t rebel! Don’t faint! Rejoice! These problems are not your enemies, bent on destroying you. They are friends which have come to aid you to develop Christian character” (Believers Bible Commentary). The “All joy” that James says we’re to have stands emphatically at the beginning of this verse and literally reads, “All joy account it.” Simply put but not simply received — We are to have a joyful attitude.

No comments: