All of us go through difficult times. The question is, “How do you respond when you’re going through a tough season of life?”
In his New Testament letter, James instructs his readers to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2).
It seems like virtually impossible advice to follow. But let’s be clear: this is not just a doctrine of “be happy, no matter what.” James is not saying, “Your baby is sick, be happy! You got in a car accident, be happy!” That would be a stupid doctrine.
If we read on, James continues, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (vv. 2–4, emphasis mine).
So much develops in us when you and I face trials. Things like empathy, resilience, and contentment. But James says the most important thing to grow in us is patience—the ability to keep our faith in God even while we’re waiting on Him to act in tough circumstances.
And the growth of that patience is reason to rejoice!
In January 2014, I was in a serious boating accident and rushed into surgery. The first thing the lead surgeon said to Janet when they came out of surgery with me was, “Every one of us thought we were going to lose him. We didn’t think he’d be able to live.”
I had bleeding on the brain, and an artery had sprung a leak. My throat was crushed and torn open. I had a dead vocal cord because of all the trauma in my neck. And so I was in the hospital for a long time.
Eventually I did get out of the hospital; but because of my injuries, most people couldn’t understand what I was saying. I had to learn how to speak all over again. Even now I have to form certain words a different way than I used to.
I’m acutely aware that the main reason I am here today and can carry on a conversation is because of the grace of God.
But in that whole period of healing, I needed to be patient and keep my faith applied until all the work that God wanted to do in me was done.
Right now, you may be thinking, But how am I supposed to keep my faith when things are just so difficult? How can I let patience develop when I can hardly trust God?
If you’re wondering how to endure suffering with faith and patience so that you can count it all as joy, I want to encourage you with my message, Count It All Joy: Lessons from James Chapter 1.
It is my personal thank-you for your gift this month in support of the Answers with Bayless Conley ministry.
In this message, you’ll discover James’ remarkable perspective on how you can grow a strong faith that will help you lean on God through trials… and discover the joy that is possible even amidst suffering.