To suffer and to face adversity is part of the human experience. Some people are obvious while they're suffering. Some people never seem to face anything resembling adversity. Do happy people face trials? Can we be happy while experiencing suffering and adversity?
The sun rises over the evil and the good. The rain falls on the just and the unjust (Mt. 5:45). Trials and adversity come to those who walk with God and to those who don't. Even though it may appear some never experience adversity, you can rest assured they do. Then some appear to suffer continuously. We all respond to adversity we face with various human emotions. How many of us do so with joy?
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (Jas. 1:2 KJV).” To fall into divers temptations is nothing less than being surrounded with various adversities. The Apostle James is saying to be happy when we face suffering and adversity. Has this writer lost his mind? How and why are we to “count it all joy” when we're facing trials and suffering?
The how of rejoicing while suffering is based on faith. Now we understand “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1 KJV).” In other words, faith is being sure of the things we hope for and being certain of what we don't see.
Let's look at James 1:3: “that the trying of your faith worketh patience (KJV).” Now we directly encounter the word faith. The word worketh means to accomplish or to finish. Patience means endurance or perseverance. James is telling us the purpose of facing adversity is to gain, or to perfect perseverance. The interesting word though is the word trying. Its use here means the testing of, implicating trustworthiness. Is God then testing us because he doesn't trust us? No, not at all.
James addresses this: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man (Jas. 1:13 KJV).” God isn't the one who's trying, or tempting our faith. James answers this in the next verse (verse 14), “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed (KJV).” Our own actions lead us into the testing of our faith.
When God places his Spirit within us, he entrusts us with his most precious gift. He gives us an intimate relationship with him. Think about this, God wouldn't place his Spirit within us if he didn't trust us. The bottom line is the battle between this flesh and his Spirit. We're tested when the flesh is enticed. Our submission to temptation has consequences, some of which lead to adversity and suffering. God is quick to forgive when we fail the test, but we still must endure the consequences.
The successful endurance of the testing of our faith should lead us to great joy and happiness. It's not coincidence James closes his epistle speaking of patience (Jas. 5:8). He uses the prophets as an example of suffering and endurance. He uses Job as an example of patience or endurance. However, he gives us this key for success: “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray (Jas. 5:14). Afflicted means suffering hardness or trouble.
Paul writes, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God (Ro. 8:28 KJV).” This is how we can experience pure joy when we're facing life's trials and troubles. We understand God has our best interests in his heart. We pray when we face adversity. The testing of our faith develops our endurance. We learn to trust in God's providence. We endure until he returns for us. Thus we can “count it all joy” when we're surrounded by various adversities.
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Hallelujah! You nailed it! And just....AMEN. It refreshes me to hear this shared about suffering, trials and so on. We have too many brothers and sisters under duress, wondering what they've done wrong.
This is perfect timing for me. I guess by now I shouldn't be surprised when God leads someone to say or write the exact words I need to hear at the exact moment I need to hear them. Thank you for listening to God and leaving this message for me when i really needed it.
Excellent article. Perhaps explaining the meaning of the word 'joy' might help others to understand. JOY is not necessarily happiness or elation; it is just KNOWING inside of ourselves that JESUS dwells in our spirits. Thank you for sharing this.