Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. James 1:2 (ESV)
Like the inhospitable cold corridors of the emergency hallways we entered, so were the years of trials and tribulations my family endured. Life-altering pain, weekly doctor’s visits, IVs, and deeply weary souls underneath it all consumed the last five years of our life. Like a thief who comes to steal, it has physically, emotionally, and spiritually robbed us, leaving us depleted, weary, and wondering if we would survive….
Joy has been rarely perceptible through our enduring loss. However, the seeds of a greater work, and yes, even of a greater delight have begun to sprout and flourish as we peer under the surface of what God is doing. A work that God is doing not only in us but in all who endure trials.
Joy does not arise naturally from us as we suffer the effects of the fall of this life. Why would James exhort the readers of his epistle to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2)? His words seem to be jarring initially, especially at the beginning of a letter to exiles who have been dispersed from their homes. We would expect words that seem more sympathetic, perhaps, intermingled with pity and compassion. The brother of our Lord, however, gets straight to the point and exhorts the opposite expression of natural emotion—joy amid trial. These seemingly cold words of James are actually filled with warm gospel truth and hope as they point the troubled soul to the root from which the true healing balm comes.