My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
This is a verse that Christians like to read, and memorize, but not actually believe and do. I know very few people (okay, I can't think of any) who count trials as joy- ESPECIALLY when they are still in the trial and not on the other side of it yet.
I shared a few days ago from Katie Davis' blog about how it is important to find beauty in God's process, not just the finished result.
I think James takes this thought one step further by asking us to count it ALL JOY when trials come. All joy means, to me, not one bit of grumbling.
God has been showing me lately that He can be trusted to have a GOOD PLAN. Plans to prosper, not harm. So, I looked at that mess and thought, "Huh, I wonder what awesome blessing God has in mind for THAT." And I had perfect peace. And, even JOY. Some humor even. I mean, LOOK at that angle, you totally couldn't have AIMED that tree to hit that van any more thoroughly.
Now, a disclaimer. I did not get this way through any strength or goodness of my own. This faith. It is a gift of God, through and through.
New King James Version (NKJV)
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Ephesians 2:8New King James Version (NKJV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
I would be an imbecile to not trust that God has a GOOD PLAN in everything by now, after seeing His hand work in so many amazing ways throughout my life and especially over the last few months.
And, God gave me little encouragements throughout the day to keep my JOY right up where it should be- He gave me the verse from James 1 right away in the morning, and He gave me the song "I'm a Child of the King"
My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.
I'm a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I'm a child of the King.
I have a rich daddy- who cares if my van is squashed? No biggy for Him.
Well, after having this especially weird peace and JOY over my poor, squashed minivan, the Geico guy showed up yesterday. He came into our house and handed us the paper entitled "Total Loss Notification." And he had listed the estimated value of our van.
Now let me backtrack to another God-story here. When we were shopping for that van, we had to do some waiting on God, His time frame for when we would get a van was different from ours. But when He supplied that van, He gave us a RIDICULOUSLY good deal on a MUCH NICER van than we really needed.
So, the value written on that sheet? Was just about $3,000.00 more than what we paid for our van just over two years ago. Let me just say that it is only in God's economy that vehicles APPRECIATE in value.
I do not know what God's plan is for that extravagant gift of money. Maybe He knows we are going to need a bigger car. Maybe He knows we are going to need the cash. Maybe He knows of a BIG NEED somewhere in the world, and when we hear about it, we will be prepared to give this money to folks who need it. We are waiting on Him to see how He wants us to use that money. I'll let you know.
But in the meantime, Glory to GOD.
So, back to the 'count it all JOY' thing. Friends, I would like to challenge you to find your JOY in the trials. Because, as weird and not-normal-human-response as it is, it is GOD'S desired response. He has a GOOD PLAN. He is RICH RICH RICH. Paul prays in a number of places for Christians to come to know and understand the ENORMOUS RICHES that are in Christ Jesus. I am starting to understand why. Because, when you understand that God is all-powerful and all-loving and that He is on your side, you can have perfect peace and JOY in the face of any difficulty. (On a random side note, please do not mistake this for prosperity gospel, God does not want to make you rich. I am just saying that HE is rich.)
God wants you to put your emotions where your mouth is and be happy when you see a problem because you KNOW KNOW KNOW in your heart that even if the enemy meant it to harm you, God WILL use it to PERFECT you.
Laughing at trials and smiling at troubles,