That is Heartless!
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“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2)
“That’s just heartless!” Sometimes that’s what I think when I read the Bible, especially the book of James. Right from the very first chapter, almost the first verse, James is ruthless: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
Find joy in the face of trials, and not just joy, but pure joy? It sounds absurd. The word for trials here can mean temptation or testing. And don’t you just love the descriptor “of many kinds” after the word “trials”? Yeah, me neither.
James doesn’t stop. Near the end of his rampage, he states, “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.” James sounds a lot like his big brother Jesus in Matthew 5:10. He goes on to remind us about Job’s perseverance, and about God’s “compassion and mercy.”
James isn’t the only one who is unshakably positive when things are hard. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, tells us to “rejoice always, pray continually [and] give thanks in all circumstances.”
These guys are setting the bar high! When things are rough, shouldn’t I be entitled to sulk? I view these passages with pessimism when I’m enduring trials and doing so without a biblical mindset, without a godly worldview. If I’m walking as a true disciple, these passages make more sense. I start to think, “Oh ya. I do live in a fallen world (humanity’s fault, not God’s). And I do serve a good God (a perfectly suitable cause to rejoice). And amidst this pain, He loves me and has a plan for my life (undeserved).”
That’s when I start thinking more like a Hebrews 10:36 man. I need to persevere so that when I have done the will of God, I will receive what He has promised.
God isn’t heartless. He’s the opposite. And though trials will come and we will suffer, we must stand firm, persevere, and keep the faith. Praise God for the millions of men that already persevering. We ask God and seek to build up another generation of spiritually strong men who are willing to stand under the rain and praise God in the storms, at any cost.
God, Don’t let me forget that You are always good. No matter what. Amen.
Question: How do you focus on God’s goodness when things get really bad?