“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:1-4
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
These verses along with the Question: ”What does is mean to be joyful in times of suffering?” Where the subject of discussion at FNY (Friday Night Youth) this past Friday. If you have read this post you will know that a lot of things have happened, and not all of them are great things. If you read the post you would know that I struggled with the feeling of disappointment and thus I was unhappy. So, guess who has a sense of humor. Yup, God.
What did God do exactly you ask me. Well, God decided to place things in my life to show me what I needed to learn, and the biggest lesson is what I am sharing today. That lesson would be “Count all joy” So today I have with me my notes from FNY along with God’s written word and my own convicted heart. I hope that I am able to be God’s instrument in stirring your heart.
James, the 20th book in the New Testament. And it is very much like the sermon on the Mount, but on steroids. It is written by James, he was the half brother of Jesus. You can imagine how that went over at family gatherings. Not only did you have the brotherly bickering, but there was the fact that they weren’t even full brothers! But nonetheless, James knew (at least when it was revealed to him) that Jesus was the Son of God and that he was here with a divine purpose.
James opens his letter to the 12 tribes in the Dispersion as follows; “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings” Right off the bat James makes himself known of who he is. He isn’t James, the brother of Jesus. He isn’t James, the son of Mary. No, he is James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. The next important thing he does is he basically says “Hi!” There is no better way to start a conversation then the good-old “Hi!”
James just dives all in after that, he goes on to say “Count all joy, my brothers and sisters when when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (Italics added) Now I know what you must be thinking, “Uhm James, do you mean that we are supposed to be happy when bad stuff happens to us?” You are right…and wrong. You are supposed to be joyful and happiness is a different story. But to understand this, you need to understand the difference between Joyfulness and Happiness.
1. State of mind.
2. Something short term.
1. It’s a deeper (more meaningful) feeling
2. It’s an identity
So now hopefully you can see the difference between Joyfulness and Happiness. One lasts for a little amount of time while the other lasts indefinitely. An example of this would be “Even when I am depressed (unhappy) I am joyful because I am alive!” Now that we fully understand how these two words are different, we can move on to perceive what else James was trying to convey.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” (James 1:2) Here James is telling us to be joyful when trials (sufferings, hardships etc) come our way. Verse 3 says, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” All this means something so very simple, and to put it in more modern words, this is what James is telling us; “Dudes! When something bad happens be joyful that you are alive and take this as an opportunity to grow stronger in your faith!”
Stronger by Kelly Clarkson, we have all heard this song whether we realize it or not. The chorus is this;
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over cause you’re gone”
Kelly conveys the age out fact that if you aren’t dead after something happens, you are stronger in some shape or form. When you go through a trial, most times when you come out the other side of it, you have your head held high, you “Stand a little taller.” The next part is tricky, “Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone” As Christians we are never really alone, because we have Jesus there 24/7 and even though we can’t see him nor feel him, he is very much with us. The following part “What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter, footsteps even lighter.” Have you seen guys in professional fighting? Have you seen how they seem to “bounce” on their toes? As fighters they have been trained to block the “enemies” attacks. These fighters have been taught to “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” They are light on their feet and strong in their hands/arms. This happens very much the same to anyone who goes through a suffering or a hardship. They learn to be light on their feet but strong in their “attacks.”
Kelly is obviously talking about a past boyfriend in her song, so her song is about love and romance but the book of James is talking about trials of all kinds, he tells us that we are to “Count it all joy” in every calamity that we may face in life. James is saying that our faith will become stronger through these difficult times, but only if we have Jesus. See, Christians have a different world view (or at least we should) while most people are going about their daily lives, they are not going to have this “Everything is awesome” world view. No, they are going to be stressing over a many great deal of things, the biggest one being that they don’t understand what their purpose in life is.
Fellow Christians can agree with me when I say that our greatest and most important purpose in life is to serve Jesus with a joyful heart and everything that we have to offer and even more beyond that. We have (or should have) this very joyful outlook on life, and why? Because we know what happens when our time on earth is at its very end. We know why we are on earth, we have the understanding on what we are ultimately are commanded to accomplish. I, with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, know that our call is to serve a great powerful wonderful God. Therefore, we have (or should have!) a joyful spirit about this life.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) The crown of life, the everlasting life. This is why I, as a Christian have no fear in death. I know that if I serve my God with everything that I have, I know what will happen. But mistake me not, I don’t do good for a reward; No, but rather because it is what I must do. I do the will of God because there is simply nothing else that I can do. I am lost without my heavenly Father. So I am blessed because I remain strong in my faith when misfortune happens in my life. I remain loyal to God, I do not give up on him. Very much like Job; he had everything taken away from him and yet through it all he did not waver in his faith. And why? He knew that his God, the God of all, was more powerful and all this happened for a reason. Job and many others in the Bible and people today know that when someone means you evil, God turns it into something good. A learning experience for you or for others around you.
Here is a short summery on what these verses mean.
James 1:3 – the trials that we go through produce steadfastness, patience, loyalty, determination,
James 1:4 -through these trials we become more spiritual mature
James 1:12 – we will receive the Crown of life, everlasting life.
I think that James communicates quite clearly on this subject, Be joyful through trials, it’s gonna make your faith stronger buddy! And hey, at the end, you are going to have eternal life! There are a few more verses that you can read on your own that go along with all of this. Galatians 5:22, Ecclesiastes 2:26, Romans 5:1-5 and Psalms 51:12. Thus this message is finished, but I will leave you with this;
When we put our faith in God — He provides!!