Joy in the Midst of Trials

Joy in the Midst of Trials

Count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds. — James 1:2

Over the years, I have contemplated this one verse. How does one count it all joy? What does it look like in the midst of the struggles of every day life to count all things joy? It is easy, when life is going well, when there is enough money in the bank account, when our relationships are flourishing, when our kids are behaving well to count that joy, but how do I do that in the midst of the muck of life? What I have learned is when life is meeting us with trials of various kinds, our doctrine teaches us to count it all joy.

I think doctrine can help us in this. All too often we think that doctrine just communicates important information to us. Doctrine does do that. However, what sets the Christian apart from all of others in the world is not solely the content of the faith but how it is appropriated. Doctrine gives us a grid through which to interpret life. To morph Calvin’s analogy a bit, doctrine functions as spectacles through which we read life.

How do we learn to count it all joy? Well, doctrine teaches us this. It teaches us by directing us to see all things as part of God’s providential plan (Eph 1:9-10) and His purposes (Rom 8:28). It is through reading life’s events in light of our doctrine, particularly the eschatological reality that the climax of the story is God’s reign on Earth as in Heaven, that our doctrine teaches us to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds.

When we encounter trials of various kinds we are given an opportunity. Will we let our doctrine direct our living? Will we say yes to the trial and trust the Lord’s lead? Are we willing to enter into a situation in which we have no control? If we are willing, we will be rewarded with a great adventure.

What I have found as I have pondered this one verse is that it requires faith to count it all joy. In the midst of the muck and mire of life, at the times when there does not seem to be a way out, the sound doctrine that I have learned from my early years to today teaches me. It turns me back in faith to my Lord and at that moment I am able to count it all joy.

 

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