When I committed to doing this series, focusing on just one verse a day, I knew there would be some challenging days, and this is one of them. When we study the Bible, we must be careful not to take the verses out of context. We need to consider what comes before and after a verse in order to understand “the big picture” of the passage. In many cases, reading one verse without the next verse would be like trying to drive half a car or ride half a horse. (The Books of the Bible were not written in verses. Versification was added later to help us quickly identify each passage of Scripture.) However, the benefit of considering one verse a day is that it helps us to slow down, and notice details in the Bible we might otherwise pass right by.
Today’s verse is one of those verses that we won’t really understand until we read tomorrow’s verse. However, on its own, it still has something important for us to learn…
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
Joy and trials are not two words that we would naturally link together. How can I possibly feel joy when I am facing a problem in my life? The impossible becomes possible when we realize there is an important difference between happiness and joy. Generally speaking, happiness depends on our circumstances, but joy does not. We can have joy in situations that make us unhappy. For example, we can be unhappy at a funeral but also have joy, knowing that our loved one believes in Jesus, and is in Heaven.
Even though James has not yet told us why we can have joy in trials – (we will have to wait until tomorrow for that explanation) – we have already learned something about trials: they do not have to steal our joy! We can have problems and still enjoy life. Could it be that problems can actually benefit us in some way? (Tune in again tomorrow to find out.)
Before we leave this verse, I would like you to notice two things. First, James referred to his readers as “my brothers,” which means that he was writing to his fellow Christians. Followers of Jesus can experience a joy in trials that the rest of the world cannot understand. Second, he told us to count it all joy when we meet trials – not if we meet trials. As long as we are in this world we can expect to have trials, but we can take heart in what Jesus has told us:
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Today’s Good News is that we can know joy in our trials if we know Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.
Now, go share the Good News…
FAITH in ACTION!
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