“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:2-5, NASB).
James was a leader with a direct way of speaking — lacking pleasantries or preambles, he was blunt and straight to business. After a one-word greeting, he launched right into his letter with this imperative: “Consider it all joy.” In other words, be happy when you are in an unlikely place called difficulty. But finding joy when things are rough is challenging, so the following four words will help you understand how you can obtain it.
CONSIDER – KNOW – LET – ASK
James knows that when you come to Jesus you are going to face trials and tribulations, and he says that whenever, not if, you face them, you are to consider it joy. You may have to refocus in order to find the joy, but it is there. It comes from considering the outcome of what you are enduring and following the biblical admonition to closely reflect on it.
Don’t give up before your testing is over. An important thing to know is that your trials are not taking anything from you; they are producing good things in you. It may feel as though God is against you, but he is for you and is maturing you, so don’t abort his mission. In other words, do not waste your trials. You could be close to the end, so let God’s grace enable you to endure.
Finally, what if you get to a place where you have no idea what to do? Simply ask God for wisdom and he will guide you. In fact, asking God is really just another phrase for prayer, so put your trust in him and ask freely — with confidence.
Tim Dilena pastored for 30 years in Detroit and then in NYC at Brooklyn Tabernacle. Pastor Tim, his wife Cindy and 4 children now Pastor in Lafayette, LA.
Scripture provides endless examples of how the presence of the Lord empowers his people to live for him. Take Moses, for example. He was convinced that without God’s presence in his life, it was useless for him to attempt anything. When he spoke face to face with the Lord, he stated boldly, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). He was saying, “Lord, if you’re not with us, we are not going to make it. We will not go a single step without the assurance of your presence.”
God’s presence is what sets us apart from nonbelievers. The Old Testament is filled with accounts of great blessings that came to those who had God’s presence with them. For instance, God’s presence was so evident in Abraham’s life that even the heathen around him recognized the difference between their lives and his. The heathen king Abimelech said, “God is with you in all that you do” (Genesis 21:22).
God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when his presence was with him: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:5-6). When God’s Spirit is present in your life, you can be a conqueror because you trust his promise to be with you in everything you do.
God shared with Isaiah a special promise he makes to those he loves: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine … I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior … Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:1, 3, 5). With God’s presence abiding in you, you can go through any fire and not just survive, but be kept safe and protected through it all. Just as it was with Moses, Abraham and others, you have a powerful testimony of God’s presence in your life today.
“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:1).
“Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yes, let them rejoice exceedingly” (Psalm 68:3).
“Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You” (Psalm 5:11).
God is serious about wanting his children to serve him with joy and gladness — which is the result of one great foundational truth: we are under his protective wings! He does not want us to be defeated and downcast, living as unbelievers do.
The Bible abounds with the glorious stories of those who maintained joy through their trials — even when everyone else had given up. In one instance, all Israel murmured and complained except for two men of God, Joshua and Caleb. They never once wavered in their faith and joy, even though all those around them had given in to despair and defeat (see Numbers 13).
In another, three young Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, leapt for joy as they declared, “We will serve our God with trust and gladness.” They rejoiced in the Lord, immovable in their faith, as they were miraculously delivered from the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3).
The apostle Paul said, “I am exceedingly joyful in all [my] tribulations” (2 Corinthians 7:4). Total trust in the Lord produces joy. Even today, the Lord has a people who will not bend. They lift up their heads through all their trials and glory in the Lord. They shine forth as beautiful examples of how the joy of the Lord is possible in any trial.
If your heart is right with God, you have every right to rejoice and be glad! Over and over God makes it clear that he yearns to be enjoyed by his children. Remember, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt and they crossed over the Red Sea, their faith was at an all-time high. They sang, danced and shouted the praises of God for revealing his mighty arm of deliverance. “The Lord is my strength and song … your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power … the Lord shall reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:2, 6, 18).
But the Israelites soon forgot his works and turned away from his guidance. They reverted to doubt and unbelief, and the heavenly Father was incredulous. “Now the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel. Then the Lord said to Moses: ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?’” (Numbers 14:10-11). What a profound cry from the heart of God: “What do I have to do to find a people who will fully trust me?”
Just as in Moses’ day, God’s people today trudge blindly on in unbelief, seeming to believe that the grace of God exempts them from the penalties of sin. But the Word makes it clear that even followers of Christ can possess a heart capable of unbelief, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). It is not talking of degenerates here; it is talking to believers. “Brothers, beware, because you could have a heart of unbelief — in you!”
The Scriptures say, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (3:14). Some of God’s people today are losing the unwavering confidence they once had because of severe testing. Jesus warned of fiery trials of faith that would immediately precede his coming but do not fall back into fear and unbelief.
“Your faith [is] much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7). Though you will go through trials do not allow your faith to be diminished by the fire. Instead, allow your faith to be purified. To be made holy. Endure the temporary hardship for an eternal blessing. The God you serve loves you and can be trusted to bring you through any test!
“In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Christians are growing further dissatisfied with the way things are in the world and in the church. These saints are saying, “God has something more for us! He is calling us to know him better and we want to walk in obedience to that call.” They are beginning to fast and pray in their quest for more spiritual depth.
When the Lord wants to touch you supernaturally, he will stir your nest. An inexplicable divine restlessness will come upon you and you will become disinterested in much of what you have been doing in life. All your accomplishments will leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled, and you will sense a deep, unmet need in your spirit.
The mark of this supernatural dealing is a hungry heart. Every waking hour your heart will reach out to him, and his thoughts will always be on your mind. God wants you to turn loose of the things of this world and find your completeness in him.
Is your soul hungry for more of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you sense his call to a deeper walk with God? If so, end the war inside your heart by yielding everything to the Master. You can know true peace and happiness the moment you quit striving to acquire greater success or more “things” to satisfy your ego. Seek nothing but Jesus, and your life will take on new meaning. Anxiety will be gone, worldly ambition will die, and your spiritual eyes will be opened to truth.
When the Holy Spirit gives you revelation knowledge, you will experience true riches in Christ Jesus. You will awaken each morning with overflowing joy and your soul will cry out, “I have found what my soul has been longing for. Rest — beautiful rest in my Lord.”