by Sarah Landon
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. -James 1:2-4
I feel like this verse is so relevant right now, and not in a Pollyanna-ish kind of, "just keep smiling" kind of way. God's word is far too rich for that kind of superficial nonsense.
James calls us to "count it all joy." In other versions the words "consider", "think of", or "regard" are used. These all seem a little passive and abstract. Navel-gazing comes to mind, doesn't it?
Did you know the Greek word used in the original is a version of "lead/have authority over/rule"? Gives it a slightly different feel, doesn't it?
Time for a quick lesson in Greek! Greek is so cool because you can conjugate verbs in ways English doesn't capture. This "lead" word is conjugated in such a way that it's a command...wait for it...to yourself. Yup, Greek has THAT kind of conjugation...I lead, she leads, I lead myself, you go lead yourself...no wonder Greek isn't a popular language any more. Anyway, back to our verse.
Our word ends up meaning lead yourself, rule yourself, have authority over yourself toward ALL JOY. It gives the phrase "count it" a lot more strength, doesn't it? It gives me the impression that God is saying, "I see you. I see how hard it is for you. This will take strength to have joy."
We are facing something that is unprecedented for us today. And it is critical that we lean into James' admonition during these "trials of various kinds." That we take the authority and lead ourselves in all joy. Not in anger against our brother or sister. Not in desperation and grief. Maybe through anger, desperation, and grief to the aim of all joy. Wrap your head around that for a minute.
Right now. In the midst of the various trials.
And why? Why would we in God's wisdom point ourselves toward joy? Because God has us in a process, the process is worked out as the verses progress. Trials are testing. Testing of faith produces steadfastness. Steadfastness has its full effect "that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Wow. That would be something, wouldn't it?
I feel like right now I am lacking so many things I desire. And yet, God tells us that when we have steadfast faith, we become more complete, to the point that we lack NOTHING.
Revelation 3:19 says, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent."
We are on the road to becoming complete. It is a perfect time to look inside of ourselves and consider, "Why am I upset?"
"Why am I afraid?"
"Why am I on edge?"
"Can I trust God in this?"
And as you allow, yield to the Lord these areas of your heart, let steadfastness take root...and joy with the strength God provides.
God is limitless, He can and will handle it. Cast your cares on the Lord.
Because you are his precious child. You have been chosen for this time that you would draw near to God and be perfected through this. That His goodness and love might be displayed in your life and through you.
Brothers and sisters, these are difficult times, and God has not implored us to rage against one another, give up, or despair. He has called us to steadfastness, love in action, and JOY! Will you lead yourself into His calling?