"Count it All Joy"
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” James 1:2 NKJV
As the year 2021 came to an end, I have to admit, I was glad. This has been one of the most challenging years for me personally.
On May 15, my mother passed away. On September 16, my oldest brother James passed away, Then on December 16, my other big brother Ron passed away. To make matters worse, I injured myself in a fall on November 26 that required surgery and weeks of rehab. So for me, 2021 was a very difficult year.
When we face various trials, a lot of questions come to mind. One of the most common is that these trials are a result of sin and are God’s punishment. This may be true in some rare cases. The truth is that we all will face various trials in life. The question is to find out what the greater purpose for the trial is for us.
James, the half brother to Jesus was no stranger to trials. He had a front row seat to observe his older brother and the trials He would face, including the rejection of His own family and people. The ultimate trial for James was seeing His older brother die on the cross for our sins. The worst day of James’ life became the cause of joy for millions of believers. That is why James tells us to “count it all joy when (we) fall into various trials.” There is a greater purpose.
The Message Version emphasizes this idea in James 1:2-4 with the subheading Faith Under Pressure as follows: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.”
Looking back, this year has not been easy. Going through these various trials have not seemed joyful at all. But going through each one of them has shown me the joy of trusting Christ in all things. It has shown me the joy of our church family and our pastors who have ministered to me and Ilene though prayers, cards, visits, texts, errands, food, rides, and gifts. It has given me the joy sharing a witness for Christ with my family, friends, and even the doctors and nurses who have cared for me.
The biggest joy is the patience, maturity, and endurance I have learned by being completely dependent on God and others during these trials. No doubt I will be a better follower of Christ, a better husband, and a better pastor as a result. It is my prayer that we will be a church that counts it all joy when we face various trials.
I love you and its a privilege to be your pastor.