What Does it Mean to Count it All Joy When Facing Trials? (James 1:2)
James 1:2 says: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
As people, we naturally do not enjoy pain, suffering or problems of various kinds. Life is clearly much easier and more peaceful when we experience life without problems and hardships. So our natural response is to be happy and joyful during the absence of trials but feel grief, pain, confusion and even anger in the midst of problems and hardships.
However, the reality of life is that we live in a fallen world that is plagued daily by various kinds of problems. In this world there is wickedness, there is suffering; there is injustice; there is pain; there is immorality; there is poverty; there is sickness – and so many other issues that we encounter daily. Therefore in an imperfect world, we cannot avoid facing various trials and tribulations.
However James 1:2 commands us to “count it all joy” when we encounter various trials.
Why should we rejoice in the midst of problems? How can we find peace in the midst of hardships? Why does James command us to rejoice in our trials when our natural inclination is to be negative in the midst of tribulations?
Problems Can Build Us
In context, James 1:2-4 says: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
While it is certainly normal to feel pain, grief, confusion when facing problems, in James 1:2-4 we are taught to change our attitude and perception in the midst of our trials. We must have a paradigm shift.
According to James 1:2-4 our problems are not always meant to destroy us, but they are meant to build us.
If we have the right attitude, problems can build our character instead of destroying our character.
With the right attitude, tribulation and the challenges of life can help us to grow and become better people. Problems can increase our faith, build endurance and increase our levels of maturity, wisdom and life experience.
Trials and life challenges can even motivate us to seek God and spend more time with Him.
Therefore it is for these positive reasons that we must be joyful when we face trials of various kinds. Our real motivation is that we rejoice in our trials because we believe there are personal and eternal spiritual benefits to enduring and overcoming the trials.
Romans 5:3-5 says: More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Therefore when God allows trials and tribulations in our life, it is for the purpose of building us inwardly and spiritually. When God allows challenges in our life, it is never meant to destroy or discourage us, but it is meant to build our character as long as we are seeking after God and seeking to obey His word.
Romans 8:28 says: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
There are other Scriptures that encourage us to rejoice or change our attitude in the midst of trials and challenges:
1 Peter 4:12-13 says: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.
Matthew 5:11-12 says: Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Acts 5:41 says: The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.
2 Corinthians 12:10 says: For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
To count it all joy is about changing our perception and attitude towards our problems. Changing our attitude is never easy, but it is necessary.
The secret to enduring the harsh challenges of life is to always and faithfully abide in Jesus Christ (John 15:1-11).
In John 15:11 Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
So it is important to hold onto Christ through prayer, relationship and trusting God’s word and promises.
In John 16:33 NLT Jesus says: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Our inward peace in the midst of our trials is only found through relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore it is important for us to always fix our eyes on Christ who is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Furthermore, even in the midst of our trials, God is near and He will never leave us nor forsake us despite the external circumstances we may be experiencing.
Psalm 34:18 says: The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit
Indeed there is a time for everything under the sun; including a time to weep, mourn, laugh and dance (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
God has given us different emotions for the purpose of appropriately responding to the different circumstances we face in life.
Finally it is important to realize that for the Christian believer, hardships are temporary. Our problems and trials will only last for as long as we remain in a fallen world. Everlasting peace and joy awaits. A time will come when we will eternally be with the Lord and experience eternal joy in heaven where there is no pain or suffering.
2 Corinthians 4:17 says: For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,