In this sermon, Pastor Neil preaches on James 1:2-12– “Count it all joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Here are some excerpts:
James was serious. He really meant it when he said: “Count it all joy” (ESV) or “pure joy,” as it says in the NIV. One translation says: “Count yourselves supremely happy” (NEB). When you read or hear these words, you may wonder if James has lost his mind. Doesn’t it seem irrational at best to “consider it pure joy” when you face trials or tests you never asked for, when life is hard, when you’re dealing with an awful pandemic with all its ripple effects, or some other crisis in your life? “You cannot be serious!
… What James means, and what the Bible teaches, is that in the midst of the troubles and trials and disruptions and difficulties that inevitably intrude on our lives, we are to make the conscious and deliberate decision to see them as occasions for joy – not because they are good in themselves, but because of the good that God can produce through them.
The reason that trials (like the one in which we find ourselves today, or any trial you may ever go through) are “grounds for joy” (Donald Burdick, James: Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 168) is that they are capable of producing perseverance in our lives, which in turn is used by God to forge the character of Christ in us.
Do you see that? God uses the hardships that come uninvited into our lives to shape us into the people He has designed us to be. They put our faith to the test. They are used by God to strengthen our faith…
… The time will come – soon, God willing – when we look back on the trial we are all going through, and we will see – I pray – the hand of God and the grace of God in all His dealings with us. While we are in the midst of it, let’s make every effort to choose joy in the midst of every challenge, every disruption and inconvenience. Let’s make every effort to make the best use of the time and circumstances that have been thrust upon us. Let’s make every effort, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, to strengthen our spiritual muscles of faith and perseverance, so that we may become more and more mature in Christ, to the glory and praise of God.