“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 in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (ESV)
I find so much comfort in this verse. Earlier this week I took a brake from my normal devotions to just take a look at the great promises that the Bible has about suffering, giving thanks and praise to God through everything, and the like. I found such encouragement from the words of the Bible, it is my very strength. As I write this I am pressing on through my current trial of pain in my joints. But I am reminded to count it ALL joy, not just a little bit of joy, not just taking it for what it is or just accepting it. No, it goes far beyond that. It’s taking joy in the fact that the trials God puts in our lives are merely tools for our holiness.
The tough things are only momentary, even though everyone can tell you they don’t seem that way at the time. They seem hard. We ask God with raised fists, “Are you a fool? I can serve you better with this, I thought it was a gift that was good!” When we should be having the spirit of the author of Laminations, who when faced with the destruction of his beloved city, the death of his people as well as their rebellion, and his own health in a sorry state along with other horrible things, yet he rejoiced in the Lord! He uttered the words, “Therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””(Lamentations 3:21b-24)
I am in amazement over what God has already done with the trial of my joint pain. He is teaching me so much through it and I have this deep, deep peace that I am not sure I have ever experienced before. Though my body is falling apart right now my soul is being gently comforted and clothed by the grace and mercy of my King! It’s just wonderful! The joy that you receive when you let go of those trials is so much better than having the trials go away. I am not specifically praying for healing anymore, I am praying that God will do HIS will, not mine and that my will shall be conformed to His perfect one.
I know that God is using this for my good, to conform me to His holiness, and to make me lacking in nothing. I can’t say too much how great this is. This is true joy, knowing that God is faithful even when it doesn’t look that way, truly knowing that “in faithfulness He afflicted me”. (Psalms 119:75) Words don’t even begin to describe this, I believe that’s because the language of joy is a foreign tongue that is learned as instructed and it’s truly belonging to heaven. Perfect, complete joy will only be found when we are in the wonderful arms of our Savior. He is good and He is faithful!
“Morning by morning I wake up to find
the power and comfort of God’s hand in mine.
Season by season I watch him amazed, in
awe of the mystery of his perfect ways
All I have need of his hand will provide.
He’s always been faithful to me
I can’t remember a trial or a pain he did
not recycle to bring me gain. I can’t
remember one single regret in serving
God only and trusting his hand”
(Sara Groves, He’s Always Been Faithful)