Count It All Joy
Count It All Joy
Count it All Joy. Think about that. Count it ALL Joy? Really? There have been times in my life when that has seemed impossible. I am in a Bible study group and we meet each week to study the book of James. What a sweet time that is. (If you are not studying the Bible with a group of friends, I really encourage you to do that.) The book of James is really an Action Plan for how we should be living out our faith. So many times, we simply don’t know what to do. Well, study James and he will sure tell you.
This morning I got up and began to study on my own. I started at the beginning of the book again and read Chapter 1, verse 2, “My brethren, count it all joy…” I got stuck right there. Count it all joy. Count it all joy. Only a few words, but they carry so much weight. As I read them over and over, the tears began to flow. I found myself sobbing. “What in the world is wrong with me?”, I thought. You see, I have heard those words over and over and over again. I have been so blessed in my life to have some cherished Christian mentors. No doubt, they have greatly influenced me and my love for God’s word. They have prompted me and prodded me along a pathway to growth. I am so thankful for each one. One of those influential friends was Joan Horner, co-founder of Premier Designs. As most who read my blog know, I have been an Accessory Stylist with Premier for 17 years. Joan often quoted that scripture. “Count it all joy.” It became her mantra, her theme, what she lived. These tears that won’t stop falling are partially because God has finally taught me that I truly can count it all joy and partially because Joan is now in Heaven with the Lord whom she loved so much. I miss her more than I ever imagined I could. She was an inspiration to me, a role model to me, and my friend. She was special. If you knew her – you are nodding your head in agreement. Why was “count it all joy” so important to her? Let’s read it and talk about it. Want to?
Let’s read James 1:2-4:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trails, 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.”
On first glance – that just seems crazy, doesn’t it? We are supposed to count it all joy when we fall into various trials? What in the world is this scripture about? Why was Joan so passionate about it? Why did James even say it? Well, there are a few things I have learned to be true. First of all, our ways are not God’s ways. We must choose to learn and grow and become more like Him. His ways are perfect. Secondly, every word matters in the Bible. You see, they didn’t have mail, or email, or websites. No, the book of James is a letter that was read aloud at assemblies of people – without a microphone or big screen to see him up close. Can’t you imagine you would listen so closely and hang on every word? Lastly, God’s promises are true. Every word in the Bible is His truth. In Romans 8:28 he promises,
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Yes, He is talking about YOU. If you love God and have accepted Jesus as your Savior – YOU are called according to His purpose.
Let’s break it down:
Verse 2 - “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials”. Count it all joy sounds like “jump up and down and laugh”. But that is not it at all. Please allow me to paraphrase and put this into my own words. Pam would say, “My sweet friends, we are so blessed. Even in the midst of this difficult time we can have the peace that passes all understanding – because the Lord will be with us every step of the way. He will use it for our good and for His glory.” This “count it all joy” mentality is a choice. We should claim it! It is a decision we should make that from today forward – whenever hard times come our way – we will rest assured that God will see us through and that we will be better, more like Him, once we have gotten past it.
Verse 3 – “the testing of your faith produces patience” – There will surely be difficult times for each of us. Many Christ followers would tell you that when they look back on the most difficult seasons of their lives, those are sweet times of personal growth with Jesus. It is where we learn to rely on Him, to trust Him and where He meets us. The word used here- “testing” - means to purge and refine. I remember going through a very difficult time in my life and I was exhausted. I wanted it to be over. One morning as I was reading my devotional I read about God pruning the vine to bear fruit. Know the scriptures? It is in John 15. Well the devotional talked about how a vine can’t bear fruit if it is never pruned. Same is true for us. The last sentence was, “Would you rather Him leave you alone?” Wow! That is a powerful question, isn’t it? This testing, this purging, this pruning yields patience – or some translations say perseverance. These times – if we turn to Jesus - are where we become stronger, learn to love the Lord deeper, and have an opportunity to live out our faith.
Verse 4 – “let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” – Well, perfect and complete, lacking nothing is exciting, huh? The word perfect does not mean that we will become perfect. We know that word does not describe any of us. But we will be perfected – or one step closer to the Perfect One. The Greek word that is used for perfect implies that we will have reached our goal, objective or purpose. Complete means to be made whole. Could the words lacking nothing mean that we will come to understand that Jesus is really all we need? So, let’s put all of that together. So as a Christ follower, we will get on the other side of a trial and realize that we have grown because of it. We will be stronger and have a deeper relationship with Jesus. As we grow in Him we will truly understand our reliance on Him and the fact that He is all we need.
Now, I know why James said it. I now know why Joan loved it. I am committed to claim it. Will you join me?
Count it all joy. Yes, we will…Count.. It All.. Joy!!!!!