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  • Writer's pictureKeith Haney

"How to Find Joy amid Trials and Tribulations"

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,"

Find Joy in the Midst of Suffering

Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, everything I have learned in my 75 years, which has truly enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness. - Malcolm Muggeridge, in Homemade, July 1990.

Some English translations of the Bible contain the phrase count it all joy in James 1:2. In his epistle, James gives the first command. To comprehend what he means by it, we must read the entire passage and surrounding verses: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith results in steadfastness." And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2–4, ESV).

When James says, "count it all joy," he encourages his readers to evaluate how they view trials. The word count is a financial term that means "evaluate." He encourages believers to consider trials from God's perspective when facing trials. Throughout Christian life, believers face "trials of various kinds" (James 1:2). Whenever a sudden trial occurs, we should be prepared and not caught off guard. Trials are part of the Christian experience. Jesus told His disciples, "In this world, you will have trouble" (John 16:33).

Trials are not usually occasions for joy. James isn't suggesting that we pursue trials or court hardships, nor is he implying that trials are enjoyable. It is painful and challenging to go through a trial. They do, however, serve a purpose. Because trials can produce something good within us, they allow us to express joy. When we realize there is a bigger picture, we can rejoice in trials. Even though joy is contrary to our normal reaction, James encourages us to change our attitude toward troubles from dread to positive expectation, faith, and trust.

It is not merely "count it joy," but "count it all joy," meaning we should count trials and tests as pure, unadulterated joy. It is far too familiar for us to see trials negatively, assume that joy cannot exist in hardship, or worse, think of them as God's curse on us or His punishment for our sins instead of what they are opportunities to mature into Christlikeness joyfully.

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