“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). What a difficult command. We praised God that Aila was okay, but are we really meant to count it joy when we are calling an ambulance for our child?
One night nine months later, Andrew went into the ER with possible appendicitis. This time, our pastor helped due to our lack of understanding the ER system here, and he called multiple hospitals to find one who would see us. After a few hours, we returned home with a diagnosis of kidney stones and a recommendation to see a urologist in the morning. The urologist however had an emergency come up while Andrew filled out the paperwork, so the nurse said to return in two days or go to another hospital. When the doctor looked at the tests, he concluded that the first doctor incorrectly diagnosed the problem. They sent Andrew to a gastrologist down the hall, who classified the problem as an intestinal virus. Over the last year, Andrew has returned many times as they work through stomach issues. Do we also count that as joy?
Meanwhile, Janae’s father was battling cancer 6,000 miles away in America. Last summer, he passed away a few days before Janae’s flight to America. How can we count this as joy? Do we focus on the people who heard the gospel at the funeral? Do we rejoice at the time spent with family, some of whom had not gathered in years? The answer: Yes and no.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
We can react with joy to these difficulties because we know that our faith in God is being refined through the trials, and our character will be changed to be more like Christ through it. Is it easy? No. Yet, the more intimate knowledge of God and watching Him work in our family, church, and community make it worth it.
As fear of sickness, government power, and violence spread. As loss of loved ones, jobs, future plans, and even safety pile up. As truth becomes nearly impossible to determine in this world, we ask ourselves, “What is God working on in my life? How can I mirror Christ in this situation?” Usually, it is through praying, reading the Bible, and talking with trusted friends that the answer becomes clear and in time, that is a joy.
We do not find joy in the difficulties. Instead we find joy in how God is glorified and how we are grown and changed in the process. This is faith that God knows what He is doing, and that He genuinely desires to make us better.