Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials. —James 1:2
The old translations say, “Count it all joy.” The word count or consider is a Greek word meaning to think things through, to consider things mentally, to look at something from a different mind-set. The actual Greek term means “to make a decision about something after weighing all the facts and circumstances.”
When believers have a series of reversals or difficulties, our first emotions and reactions may be painful; but we have divine resources, divine help, and divine truth to help us as we think it through and work it out in our minds. In so doing we’ll come to a different conclusion about our problems than a non-Christian would.
I remember hearing my wife talk about her mother, Hilja, a wonderful Finnish-American who loved the Lord. On one occasion she received terrible news. It was like a blow in the stomach. But as Katrina remembers it, her mother took off her apron, left the house, and walked for what seemed like hours in the fields and lanes near her home in inland Maine, thinking things through, praying about it, and giving it to the Lord. When she returned, she was composed and better able to deal with the situation.
If we can think things through from the Lord’s perspective, our feelings respond. We know that God intends to use these things for our good and for His glory, and we can count it all joy. I like the way the Phillips version puts this passage: When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.
Joy Ridderhof, founder of Gospel Recordings, turned to James 1:2 again and again. In one of her autobiographical devotional books, she told of traveling in the South Pacific. “When I arrived in New Zealand I found that my one suitcase had been lost in transit. I remembered to ‘count it all joy’ and what do you think happened? My host and hostess who owned a department store completely outfitted me for my travel in cold New Zealand! Besides this my host asked for my ticket which just took me as far as Australia, and exchanged it for a round-the-world-ticket—a gift! When I arrived in Australia and needed to attend to the securing of visas for my stops in various countries, I found that to apply for entrance required exactly the sort of ticket I’d been given…. When I arrived in Sydney airport, there waiting for me right before my eyes was my lost bag…! While we wait for His answers, let us ‘count it all joy!’”
[Count it all joy] is one of those Scripture paradoxes which nevertheless, the more we consider them will be found the more certainly true. —William Gresley
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