Count It All Joy

Dear Brethren,

Do you know what it is like to go through a fiery trial?   You feel like you are being crushed by the weight of it. You feel that things are only getting worse and worse, and that you may not survive.  At the time of the trial, you may likely think that there no reason at all for it, but God does allow Christians to experience severe trials in their lives, including terrible afflictions and horrible troubles.  He does this for good reason – He is the author and finisher of our faith – He is directing our lives for our ultimate good (Hebrews 12:2).  His love for us is perfect, and the trials He allows us are tailor made for us – sometimes even unto death.

Wouldn't it be great if, when we were experiencing terrible trials in our lives, we could be assured of receiving not only encouragement, but also Godly advice to aid us in our difficulty?  At a time like that, wouldn't it be wonderful to receive a letter of instruction and comfort from someone speaking with Godly authority – an expert in matters of perfection and faith?  In the Bible, a letter like that is called an "epistle."  We each, have received such a letter to guide us in times of dire straits.  The general epistle of James is such a letter that you and I can count as personal counsel – directly from God.  James wrote and said, "My brother, count it as all joy when you encounter various trials; Knowing this, that the proving and test of your faith works endurance and steadfastness in you."  (James 1:2-3)

We have learned that no difficult trial is pleasant at the time, but God has assured us that He will make sure that each test of our faith, that we must endure, will not be too much for us.  "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it."  (1Corinthians 10:13)

Let's look at our trials and tests the way that God meant for us to understand their purpose.  Yes, they are very hard to endure, but their purpose is to bring about the peaceable fruit of righteousness in our lives.  "No chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."  (Hebrews 12:11)

Peter spoke of how suffering and trials make us better Christians by perfecting our character.  "Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."  (1Peter 1:6-7)

Paul says that in comparison to the reward we will receive after our trials and tribulations are over, our physical body being used up is only a "light affliction."  He can say that, because the result of our trial is that glorious Godly character that God, Himself, is producing in us.  "All things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."  (2Corinthians 4:15-17)


Sermon:  "Count It All Joy"