For the past few years, a group of friends and I have been challenged in December to ask God to give us a word for the coming year. My word for 2017 is JOY. I began the year thinking ‘awesome, my year is going to be filled with joy!’ It has been in many ways that I am so thankful for.
The year began with the birth of a baby boy into our family and has ended with the birth of a second baby boy into our family. That is JOY! In addition, I was able to complete a year-long contract of radio hosting. God provided messages and interviews throughout the year that brought great joy. We have a new church home. That, too, is great joy. However, among these joyful events, there have been trials, disappointments and discouragement as well. But God is reminding me at the end of this year what true joy is all about.
This month the Lord has taken me time and again to James 1:2 which says in part, “…count it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
In reading this verse, I think we have a tendency to believe that God is telling us to consider the trial all joy. We ask, ‘how can I consider this cancer joy, or this death joy, or this divorce, or this loss of job’ and so forth. You get the picture.
But as I have studied this, I have asked the question, ‘What is the IT of this verse?’ Could it be that the IT is not in reference to the trial, but rather in reference to that which we are to consider – all joy? Could it be that the IT is the Good News delivered by the angels to the shepherds who were watching over their fields at night? The angels appeared to the shepherds and said, “…Behold, I bring you tidings of GOOD NEWS of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10. Could it be that the IT is the same GOOD NEWS described in Isaiah 61:1 – the good news of Jesus Christ?
If that is the case, it changes how we would think when in the midst of trials. Count it all joy is only one phrase of the sentence. The word ‘count’ in the Greek means to consider, think about, rule over, to command, to have authority over – to be a leader. What this is telling us is that we have authority over the choices we make in our thought process.
This phrase is joined to the rest of the sentence by the word ‘when’ meaning that we will have trials. This is saying, not if you have trials, but when you have trials you have the authority over your mind to choose to think about the joy that is the Good News of Jesus, or to focus on the difficulty.
Joy is a gladness of heart and calm delight, but ALL joy is everything of anything that ever was given to those who believe in and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas is the celebration of the time in history when He came to earth as a newborn baby to live among the human race to save us all from our sin.
When trials come your way, think about the joy of knowing Jesus and claim the promises of God for all joy in the midst of the difficulty. In doing so, there is peace. The birth of this baby changed everything for you and me. Fix your eyes and thoughts on Jesus this holiday season.