old manOn the surface it appears that some of God’s instructions or commands seem very hard to comprehend or even make logical sense.  James 1:2-3 can be one of these profound and puzzling verses.  Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  Most of us do not believe that the trial or suffering that one endures is itself a joyful occasion. Anyone who has suffered through such ordeals has not come through happy with the trial itself.  If this were so, we would all gladly look forward to the event(s) with eager anticipation.  On the contrary, God’s encouragement to us in these and other related verses is a mental and spiritual exercise.  Alexander MacLaren, in a sermon entitled “Faith Tested and Crowned,” distinguished between being tempted and being tested or tried. He said, “The former word conveys the idea of appealing to the worst part of man, with the wish that he may yield and do the wrong. The latter means an appeal to the better part of man, with the desire that he should stand. Temptation says, ‘Do this pleasant thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong.’ Trial or proving says, ‘Do this right and noble thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is painful.’ The one is a sweet, beguiling melody, breathing soft indulgence and relaxation over the soul; the other is a pealing trumpet-call to high achievements.”

 The joy comes by the fact that we overcame the hardship. We were strong. We kept our dignity. We grew by leaps and bounds. Consider what Jesus said in Mt. 5:11-12“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. The mere fact that you’re being persecuted means you’re doing what’s right, your character is shining. Jesus tells us what the joy is: a great reward in heaven for having such a character, a character that is not afraid to proclaim Jesus.

 When we go back and look carefully at the first four words of James 1:2, some very interesting things come out. The word “consider” in the Greek is “hegeomai.” It means to lead, to go before, to be a leader, to rule or command. The word “all” is from the Greek word “pas”, which means everything or everyone. Do you see the implication of these words?  Basically, the secret to enduring trials is to let everything that brings us joy have rule and command over our thoughts. The encouragement to us is that when we’re undergoing trials and tribulations, don’t think or dwell on the misery, think and dwell on the joy of past and future moments.  Concentrate on the joy of knowing that suffering is the result of a Godly character, established and refined by our Savior.  Especially, we should be meditating on the joy of Heaven and the great reward that awaits.

Darryl Fuller