“Count it all joy brethren when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2). For years my husband, Alan, had a problem with that verse. He couldn’t understand why we were supposed to be joyful when we came upon a trial. It didn’t make sense… until one day God showed him that every time we encounter a trial, we are really encountering an opportunity to choose whether to walk in the Spirit (do what God’s Word says), or walk in the flesh (do it our own way).
With each trial that presents itself we can rejoice – not over the trial, but over the opportunity to choose how we will respond to it. Once viewed from this perspective, the verse became one of Alan’s favorite scriptures, although I would be lying if I said either of us ever came to enjoy the trials themselves! Or that I always respond to trials this way.
These choices confront us continually. How do we react when someone hurts or offends us? Do we choose to forgive, as the Bible says, or do we harbor resentment and take offense? When the clerk at the grocery store, or the person behind us in line, is cranky, do we respond with kindness or try to think of a great come-back to put her in her place? When someone needs our help, do we lend a hand, or are we “too busy?” You get the idea.
Every time we make that choice to walk in the Spirit, we are allowing God to “show up” in the situation, and we grow in patience and perseverance (James 1:3-4). No matter what happens to us, it is always up to us to choose how we will respond. So, let’s count it all joy!