Counted All Joy
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
As believers we should always have something to rejoice about, but it’s not usually our first knee jerk reaction to start dancing and singing in joy when trials and troubles come our way.
- How do you usually react or respond to troubles and trials?
- How should you respond to troubles and trials?
Troubles and trials can come in all different forms (financial, relationships, health, etc.). It’s important to be able to recognize the source of the trouble/trial. Some troubles are self-induced due to our own laziness, neglect, and bad decision making. These are not the trials James is referring to. James is referring to attacks that come from our enemy due to no cause of our own or testing (not tempting) that the Lord allows. Satan and your own evil desires may tempt you, but anything Satan tempts you with is not intended for your good; however, when God tests you, he has a goal in mind that is for your good. Throughout life we will all be faced with many different trials, and we should not be surprised or caught off guard by them just like we would not be caught off guard if we joined the military and had to go to war (1 Peter 4:12). There are many sources of trials and the question is not IF we will face trials but WHEN we will face them. Knowing and expecting that trials and troubles WILL come is like armor for our minds. Pastor Tommy said we don’t get to pick the troubles we go through, but we do get to pick where we are at with God when the troubles do come.
- How can the way we came into our faith effect how we handle trials? Why is it harmful for a new Christian to believe that everything gets better and easier once they are saved?
- What are some examples of self-induced trials versus trials we may face that are due to no fault of our own?
- What is the ultimate purpose/goal of the trials and tests that God allows in our life?
- What helps us endure the trials we go through?
If our joy is connected with any conditions or is rooted in anything that is subject to change, we will be disappointed, discouraged, and depressed. The joy of the Lord has to be our source of strength because He is never changing, regardless of our different seasons of life. Therefore, as believers, we should still have joy and praise no matter what our circumstances are.
God doesn’t promise that He will fix all your problems or even change your difficult situation, but what will change is YOU. You will grow stronger in your faith and your heart and attitude about the situation will change. This change that takes place in you creates steadfastness (patience and endurance) in your faith. As YOU begin to change and develop steadfastness in your faith, the scriptures say that you are made complete and will lack nothing.
- Why do we need steadfastness in our faith when everything is going good?
- Why do we need steadfastness in our faith during times of trouble?
- What does the scripture mean when it says “you will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4)
Your endurance/ steadfastness is powerful, like a weapon of mass destruction, because Christ is exalted when we are able to endure and grow in our faith during times of difficulty and trouble. When we can endure and remain steadfast during trials, it makes the source of our hope and joy, Jesus, very appealing to the world.
- What are some of your favorite stories in the Bible of men or women who endured and remained firm in their faith even through great trials?
- Do you have examples of people you know who have been an inspiration to you because of their steadfastness regardless of their circumstances?
Read Romans 8:31-39- If Christ is at the bottom of your joy, then there is nothing hell or anybody else can do about it because this scripture reminds us that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ. Paul said I count it all loss so that I might gain the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (growing more deeply acquainted).
- What does Paul mean by this?
Knowing Christ now is far more precious than being delivered from our troubles or everything turning out the way we want it to. Experiencing and knowing the sweetness of Christ, even through our most difficult times, is what comforts us and gives us the peace and faith we need to endure. It also prepares us for where God is taking us. God has a plan, and sometimes he uses difficulty to get us to where he wants us to be. Pastor Tommy shared the story of when he lost his football scholarships and all HIS plans and dreams, everything he had worked so hard for, began to fade. It can be confusing and painful when God starts to redirect our lives.
- Has God ever taken something from you that you have worked hard for or has He used difficulty in some other way to redirect your destiny?
- What was your initial reaction to the difficulty referenced above? Did your attitude and understanding regarding the difficulty change throughout the process? Why?
Not only can God use difficulty to redirect your destiny, but he can use difficulty to help you gain the skills and attributes you will need for where He is taking you. For example, the difficulty David endured tending his flock of sheep and fighting off wild animals prepared him to defeat Goliath- HEROES ARE MADE IN DIFFICULTY! David was prepared and was fully confident in God when he stood against Goliath. Likewise, when we stand against trials in our own life, we don’t know the details (why, how, when, or how long), but the one thing we can have confidence in, like David, is that Jesus is our only hope, our anchor, our defense, and our refuge. We can trust that He has a plan that is not only for our good but also for His glory! We need to embrace what God is doing in our life and take joy that He has a plan with a goal in mind. We should be less focused on the outcome of the difficult situation and more focused on trusting and knowing Christ through it all. Therefore, we can start to count it as joy when troubles that are not self-induced come our way because it is an opportunity for us to grow and mature in our faith so we can be prepared for where God is taking us. Pastor Tommy said God is not trying to see what you are made of….He is trying to make you! Embrace him in every season of your life so that you are not tossed about like the waves in the ocean. We NEED steadfastness every day, through the good and the bad, and the only thing that brings true joy and the endurance of faith is harmony with God despite what situations we are facing.
- Are you going through a trial right now? Evaluate the source of the trial and decide if it is self-induced, an attack from the enemy, or God’s fiery testing?
If it is an attack from the enemy or God’s testing, TAKE JOY because God is working in your life. Trust HIM and remember that even if the outcome isn’t what you want it to be, He is forever faithful and has a plan, even though you may not understand it, that will be for your good and His glory! No matter how it all turns out, the sweetness of knowing Christ is worth it all and far exceeds anything else.