Choosing Joy Amidst Trials
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing ~ James 1:2-4.
In the realities of the Christian life and of the peculiar times we live in today, we are bound to experience trials occasionally. We must, therefore, truly embrace and actively internalize this fact in our maturing processes as believers if we are to keep godly handles on our emotions amidst the diverse trials, persecutions and temptations being hurled at us.
No sphere is spared, as it were, on this corridor of trials. Globally, the socio-economic front is very hostile to Christian manliness; the political arena has turned to a fiasco, with democracies being reduced to mere “money-o-crazies” before our very eyes, and yet the battles in the spiritual realm continue to rage unabated.
Even the stories emanating from our various neighborhoods are not anything different. Violence is rampant, insecurity is commonplace, hostility is not assuaging and fear is rife among the populace. But, with such cocktails of temptations, what should our stance be as Christians?
Are we to disguise our pains with false bravado, put on happy faces, play the ostrich and just wish the unpalatable situations away? Are we really immune to normal human emotions? Of course not!
No sane person wishes he had trials, or becomes ecstatic finding himself enmeshed in pains. Yet, in no unmistakable terms, Apostle James instructs: "count it all joy” when you fall into various trials.
In other words, we are to greet it with pure joy whenever we encounter trials, never resenting nor bemoaning our fate. Strange, isn’t it? But that is the time-tested wisdom prescription from the Ancient of Days (1 Peter 4:12-13)!
However, we must note that the joy spoken of here is not the type of the temporary condition of high pleasure or feelings we often have each time good things happen to us. Rather, the joy refers to that spectacularly calm mien, gladness, cheerfulness and delight provoked by the Holy Spirit in spite of our circumstances!
Generally, people often find it easier to be grateful to God when good things happen to them or through them (Luke 6:23). But, in a mature sense, real joy is also sometimes tied to trials, sufferings and persecutions (James 1:1-4).
Understanding the Believers’ Trials
Trials are the test-probes used to find out how qualified we are, even as professing Christians, to walk in the narrow Christian way (Matthew 7:14). Trials check on your motives, and they’re valid pathways to lasting joy in God’s kingdom (Acts 14:22).
See, we cannot be certainly sure that a soldier is well-trained until he is battle-tested. Similarly, real faith is tested in the crucibles of trials, which can come in different forms, and may also differ from person to person (Hebrews 12:6-7). But, in it all, God always aims at strengthening us and making us "perfect and complete, lacking nothing"(James 1:3-4).
Amusingly, when trials come, our common puzzling questions are: "why me?", “what have I done wrong?" We may have done nothing wrong, still trials are necessary for our growth and promotion, just like any college student passes through a very unpalatable examination period prior to the time of promotion.
Life's trials are not meant to drag us under, but to showcase God’s spectacular glory in our lives. Each time God allows us to pass through the pains of trials, He has our gains in mind (James 1:12). Therefore, we should rejoice with “joy in the Holy Ghost” when tests and trials come!
Unfortunately, sometimes, we just do not learn the lessons. We fail and, thereafter, we sink into self-pity, forgetting that what separates the “men of faith” from the “boys in faith” is the ability to remain joyful, even in the face of delays and brutal trials.
Meanwhile, the outcome of your trial is dependent on your spiritual outlook as you pass through it. Sometimes, our natural human emotion wants to become angry when things don’t line up with our expectations. Please keep it in mind that it is your reactions that determine the outcomes of your trials.
Never lose your confidence in God, no matter the circumstances (2 Corinthians 4:14-17). Rather, use every occasion of trial to soberly examine yourself, repent where necessary, fast, pray and plead for mercy as you call upon the Lord. Thereafter, joy will come for you in the morning (Hebrews 12:11).
Real joy is fully expressed after our midnight experiences in life. God always comes through for us when we boldly face our troubles and fight the good fight of faith to the very end. Then, you will be able to access that "cheerful peace of mind" and the "calm delight" produced by the Holy Spirit.
Remember Job. Every facet of his life came under fire. Even his wife and friends counseled him to curse God and die, but he abode still with God, saying, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). Afterwards, his latter days became far better than the former, and he got double for all his troubles.
Your Faith Is The Target In Every Trial
On a final note, I dare to confirm that, in every persecution, trial and temptation, your faith in God is the main target: “the trying of your faith …” (James 1:2).
As believers, it is our faith which is peculiarly distasteful to Satan and to the whole world which “lieth in wickedness” (1John 5:9). We must, therefore, determine to guard it jealously, and stand our ground in spite of the harrowing experiences of the trials.
It is by our faith that we live (Romans 1:17). Once our faith is stolen, our life is gone. It is by faith, too, that we perform exploits (Hebrews 11:1-6). The fight of faith is what secures eternal life (1Timothy 6:12). Hence, faith is cruelly attacked, and it is Satan's policy to kill it, just like Pharaoh sought to kill the male Israelite children when they dwelt in Egypt.
If the Christian man is robbed of his faith, he will be like Samson when his locks were cut away. The Lord departed from him, and the Philistines had a field day. Please keep true to your faith in Christ, no matter what, for it is the foundation of your spiritual house.
Indeed, the storms may be high, and the night very dark, but as you maintain your faith in Christ with fullness of joy in the Holy Ghost, His loving care shall overrule all the sighs of your midnight experiences, in Jesus name.
Friends and brethren, remember, this is the day that the Lord has made: rejoice and be glad in it! As you choose joy, you concurrently tap into God’s strength which will constantly give you unassailable victories all the days of your life. Amen. Happy Sunday!
- Bishop Taiwo Akinola,
Rhema Christian Church,
Otta, Ogun State, Nigeria.
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