“Count It All Joy”…During Trials???

James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” The words “joy” and “trials” are in the same sentence. These words don’t go together! Who experiences joy during trials? James even uses the word “all.” He does not say, “Count it some joy…” or “Find a little joy.” He says, “count it all joy.” As contrary as this sounds, it is a theme in Scripture to find joy in trials:

  • Romans 5:3 says, “We glory in tribulations.”
  • First Peter 1:6 says, “You greatly rejoice [when] you have been grieved by trials.”

“Count It All Joy” Doesn’t Mean “Feeling” Joy During Trials

You might be thinking: “The Bible doesn’t make sense, because I definitely do not feel joy when I am going through a trial!” The Bible makes complete sense, because it doesn’t say to “feel” joy during trials. Instead, it says “count it all joy,” because we cannot go by the way we feel. Trials make us feel sorrow and pain, so we must evaluate them independently of our feelings. The word for “count” is hēgeomai, and it means, “To lead, go before, rule, command, have authority over.” Here are a few places it’s used:

  • Matthew 2:6—“Bethlehem…out of you shall come a Ruler (hēgeomai) Who will shepherd My people Israel.”
  • Acts 7:10—“[Pharaoh] made [Moses] governor (hēgeomai) over Egypt.”
  • Hebrews 13:17—“Obey those who rule (hēgeomai) over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.”

James tells us to “count it all joy,” because we must “govern” and “rule” over trials. We must control the way we view them, versus being controlled by our feelings. We must make a mental judgment about trials by considering the way God wants to use them in our lives. Then we can face them with joy.

God Brings Us into the Deep End

James 1:3 says, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Sermons and books can teach the benefits of patience and how it is acquired, but only trials can build patience into a person’s life. Over the last few years, I have been taking my children to the pool to teach them to swim. I can talk about swimming with my children, tell them what it is like, or even show them videos of people swimming. If they are going to learn to swim though, at some point, they must get in the water. The same is true with patience. If we want to learn patience, at some point, we must be immersed in trials. Continue reading ““Count It All Joy”…During Trials???”

The Maturity Trials Produce in Our Lives

We have six children and our seventh is due May 2018. Our oldest child is ten, and while we have enjoyed our children at all ages, we still want to see them mature. When they make decisions that disappoint us, we feel disappointed with their maturity. Consider how tragic it would be if children remained immature throughout their lives.

God Is a Father and He Wants His Children to Mature

The author of Hebrews rebuked some of his readers who had been following Christ for some time, but had not matured. Hebrews 5:12 & 6:1 says:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food…Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.

Unlike these Hebrew readers, the believers in 2 Thessalonians 1:3–4 had matured significantly:

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure.

The Thessalonians were a wonderful church. Paul applauded their growth, which he attributed to the trials they experienced. This is one reason we can find joy in trials—we know they are producing patience that leads to maturity. First Peter 5:10 says, “After you have suffered a little while, [God] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” During trials we can tell ourselves, “This is strengthening me spiritually, giving me endurance, building my faith, and preparing me for the future.” Jerry Bridges said:

Every adversity that comes across our path, whether large or small, is intended to help us grow in some way.

Continue reading “The Maturity Trials Produce in Our Lives”

A letter to WCC from my wife regarding the Motherhood Conference

What a joy it has been to prepare for this Saturday’s Motherhood Conference. I have been so encouraged in my own motherhood journey in studying for my message.

This theme, motherhood, is very dear to me. What a gift it is! The Lord does much refining work through motherhood. There is nothing like being a mom. One of my biggest struggles is trusting the Lord with my children. So I have been studying and praying about that a lot. I also struggle with patience…every day. I often feel like I am not any good at parenting, but I am thankful that I have a God who is willing to meet me where I’m at with these struggles. He is the perfect Parent and He is able to teach me and guide me as a mom. I seek to point my children back to Him and make sure they know mommy is a messed up sinner in need of a big Savior!

I am also thankful to be surrounded by sisters in Christ who are going through similar circumstances and feelings and can hold me up in prayer. Motherhood can be lonely, but I have a real sense of community here that comforts me and reminds me that I’m not alone. Thank you to everyone helping me put this conference together!

I’m praying this conference encourages mothers, as all of us mothers need it! If you are a mother be sure to come and invite your friends. We will have four speakers and special music from the Voetberg family. Lori Anderson will be speaking on parenting even when it’s hard. I will be speaking on the differences between a godly mother and a worldly mother and I will conclude on talking about how God sees us and is well acquainted with all our ways. Lisa Voetberg will be speaking on putting our perfect expectations in Christ, not ourselves. Vicki Donald will be talking about how the enemy has always wanted to tempt us to question what God has said.

I would like to close with my  favorite quote on motherhood: “The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts; but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has has realized the meaning of her sacred calling.” – J.R. Miller