Count It All Joy!

”Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” James 1:2 ESV
This is one of those verses that for most people is easier said than done. For one thing trials are not normally things we associate with joy, or with delight and gladness – all of which the Greek word “charan” in the original text can be translated. After the fact we may have occasion to laugh about our trials, but when we are in them it is not a laughing matter. Why should a person consider trials an opportunity for joy? And how can we possibly do it with any consistency?
The writer who assumes we can do this has impeccable credentials. He is James, the surviving brother of Jesus and the leader of the early Christian church. If anyone knew something about trials he did, both personally and as a first hand observer of the various kinds of trials suffered by all believers in the first century.
The main thing James says as an explanation for his “count it all joy” challenge is “for you know (emphasis mine) that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (vs. 3) His claim is a reasonable one. In essence he is saying that trials test our faith and a tested faith produces in us steadfastness or endurance. Since in the long run having endurance is a good thing, that puts its cause, which is trials, in a positive and redemptive light and therefore something worth counting as joy. Knowing all that should make a difference.
While it sounds logical, more often than I would like to admit, knowing the noble purpose of trials, at least in my personal experience and in my attempts to give others that perspective in their trials, hasn’t been enough to turn the joy switch on. What then is the key to counting it all joy?

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