The one promise life never breaks is that of “ups and downs”. Every season of good times is chased with seasons of not-so-great times and vice versa. The not-so-great times are usually not necessarily the times of laughter or convenience for most of us and we’d much rather focus on how to get through those “valley moments” as quickly and as painless as possible.
As if such times weren’t hard enough, the Bible then encourages us to “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” (James chapter 1 verse 2 NKJV). That’s the LAST thing on my mind when I’m going through a rough time! But as I alluded to in last week’s How To post, if the Bible says we should do something, it usually means it’s doable, especially if we seek to understand the underlying principles and rely on the help of the Holy Spirit.
So this time around, I’m sharing my revelations on How To Count It All Joy:
Don’t mistake joy for happiness: Joy is not happiness. Happiness is based on happenings and how such happenings make us feel. Joy on the other hand is not a feeling but rather an emotion borne out of perception and understanding of the matter at hand. A very good example is seen in Hebrews chapter 12 verse 2 (AMPC) which describes how Jesus viewed the reality of His crucifixion, “He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” There was no happiness for Jesus in subjecting himself to such torture but there was joy because He understood the will of God and the ultimate benefit of His obedience to God.
Embrace the process: If we read further to James chapter 1 verses 3 to 4 (AMPC), it actually gives a clearer insight and perspective into the concept of counting it all for joy: “Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.” [emphasis mine].
In even simpler terms, the process is two-fold: faith building and increasing perfection.
- Faith building is encapsulated in the first two words of the aforementioned verse i.e. BE ASSURED which is nicely expanded in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1 (AMP): “…faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses] (emphasis mine). I’ve heard a comparison of faith to a muscle: you build muscles through exercise likewise you have to build your faith by trials. I’ve come to realise that if we don’t have trials that test how much we really trust God, we won’t have any opportunities to practice having faith in God’s promises over our lives, especially when we are yet to see those promises come to pass.
- Increasing perfection is to do with the work that ENDURANCE, STEADFASTNESS and PATIENCE (the three workers, I’ll call them) will do in us if we allow ourselves go through the faith building part of the process. The Bible says it will make us a [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. That perfection is not about being perfect in the flesh per se but rather to do with our inner man, our character. Romans chapter 5 verse 3 to 5 (AMPC) puts this so excitingly!: “
“Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”
I can’t be the only one who sees this as some serious #goals worth achieving. My goodness, God is awesome! Imagine if the world was full of people with unswerving and patient endurance, maturity of character and the habit of joyful and confident hope in salvation! I can only imagine that’s just a glimpse of what Heaven would be like.
The joy of the Lord is your strength mi amores!
P.s. I really do hope you’re enjoying the How To series so far. If you are finding them helpful, I’d really like some feedback plus if you’d like me to deal with a particular ‘How To”, do give me a shout and I’ll work on something for ya.