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James 1:2: Count It All Joy, My Brothers, When You Meet Trials Of Various Kinds

James 1:2
[2] Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (ESV)

In the previous verse we were introduced to the author of this Epistle. James, the brother of Jesus. He knew Jesus in ways that the Apostle Paul could not have known. He grew up in the same home. He had the same earthly parents. As a result, when we hear James' words we are getting insight from someone who knew Jesus better than just about anybody. So, he was acquainted with suffering.

As we read today's verse we are immediately confronted with an idea that runs counter-culturally against the way we usually live our lives. How would you prefer to finish that phrase, "Count it all joy, . . ."?  We would probably choose some of these options:

  • Count it all joy when you get a raise at work.
  • Count it all joy when you purchase a new house.
  • Count it all joy when you have a life with no problems.
These options sound better to us than what James is prescribing. Count it all joy when you meet trials? Is he serious? How does this fit with a Christianity that promotes prosperity, wealth, and material happiness? Frankly, it does not fit. Nor is that Christianity. What we discover with James, someone who knew Jesus intimately, is that true Christianity involves trials.

Is it natural for us to respond to trials with joy? No! Our natural response is to respond to trials with questioning God, possibly anger, and being indignant. The word that James is using to "count" our trials implies that it will require effort on our part which is not our most natural response. Instead of counting trials the way that we usually do, we are to count them as joy.

The bad news, trials are coming. The good news? Trials are coming! We are going to discover that trials are good for us, not bad! Count trials as joy. You will need the Holy Spirit's help to do this.