Sometimes God tells you to do something that seems impossibly crazy. I’m not talking about sending you to an African village or asking you to stand on a street corner preaching the gospel. Sometimes God brings to light a simple command found in Scripture that maybe you’ve read a hundred times before, only this time you know He means it for you in this moment. So sometimes, it really does look like “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” but other times it looks like this:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-3
I am in the middle of a trial right now.
I DO NOT want to consider it joy.
It seems crazy that He would even expect me to.
I don’t want to hear about joy or perseverance or testing my faith or being mature. I want to make myself a big bowl of ice cream and binge watch my favorite TV shows and stay in my pajamas and wallow in self-pity. That’s what my flesh wants to do.
The thing is, I have the Holy Spirit inside of me and He is oh-so-much stronger than my flesh. (Thank God!) He speaks to me. He doesn’t whisper or yell or come in a burning bush or talk through a donkey. But he speaks to me! He speaks to me by illuminating this Scripture that I’ve read so many times. I actually know this one by heart, but when I memorized this verse they were really just words on a page. Now I’m in the middle of living it and they mean so much more to me.
I can’t consider this trial joy because it’s fun or because my heart is happy or because I feel joyful. I don’t! I don’t feel a bit joyful. But I can consider it joy because I know that it is testing my faith (oh, is it testing my faith!) and I know that when my faith is tested, I learn to persevere. When I take that first step of obedience and consider my trial joy, I find that God begins to bring to my mind other Scriptures that encourage me and help me become joyful. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those that love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” I can trust that precious promise and I begin to consider my trial joy.
I’ve been learning a lot about obedience lately. I don’t need to wait for a billboard or an angel or a voice from heaven to know what God is telling me to do. He has already told me. I don’t need to look any farther than the pages of Scripture to see what He has ordained for me, what His will for my life is. Sometimes I try to make it so much more complicated than that as I question Him and beg Him to just speak to me. He already has.
So if you find yourself in the middle of a trial, be encouraged. Obey the command He lays out to consider it joy. And if you find yourself begging Him to speak to you, remember that He already has. God’s Word is the primary means of communication from the throne room of heaven to your innermost heart. Read it and choose to obey, even if you’re not feeling it at the moment. He will surely see your obedience and faithfully fulfill his promise to work all of these things together for your good.