I am not a rich man even now, but there was a time in the life of my wife and I, as with most young couples, that was riddled with unplanned spending that made for some pretty broke moments. Naturally, we spent a considerable amount of time worrying about how the bills would get paid. We would buy a new toy for ourselves and then worry about the electric bill. We had full tummies from the high life of restaurant food and coffee shops all the time but would then be late on some of the essential things that needed to get taken care of.
Those moments were obviously all our fault. They were caused by our sin. However, there are also many moments that life brings us that are not caused by our sin as much as they are simply caused by being people and living here, on the third rock from the Sun. In our family medical events have proven to be among the most frequent of happenings that tend to cause us to worry and live a life of anxiety. Trials of all shapes and sizes are like that. When we are introduced to the truth that we are really not in control of anything around us; when we lose our sense of control in our lives we almost always automatically jump to being anxious and worrying about it. We almost always stress and struggle. It’s funny because we kid ourselves into thinking that we were in control in the first place.
Usually when we read, study, or preach the classic “trials” part of James (James 1:2-4) we read “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” and we rarely take it literally. The tendency is to assume that the joy isn’t something we can experience during the trial. We believe joy and peace are things we will only experience later once the season has passed and we understand more completely why God allowed it to happen.
We have to STOP this.
When James tells us to “count it all joy” he actually means it. As with everything else in scripture, this is tied to the Gospel of Jesus; the Gospel of freedom. Only when we understand who Jesus is to us and actually believe it will we have the ability to experience this joy.
When Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 not to be anxious about what we will wear or how we are going to get food he assumes we know who he is. He assumes we understand our relationship with him. He says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” If you are a disciple of Jesus; a true disciple that lives everyday in your identity in Christ and who allows that identity to compel you to service and works, then the God of all things is your Dad! He, the Father and Creator of all things is your Daddy. You are a child of God. Jesus also compares our heavenly Father with real human dads. He says if a human dad would give gifts to his son, how much more would the Father in heaven give good gifts to his children?! The Bible tells us that our Dad works all things together for the good of those who loves him.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4 to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This guy understands that the ability to rejoice; to experience real joy and peace during times of pain, suffering, and trials of “various kinds”. He learned how to be satisfied in all things. He learned that Jesus loves him and if that’s true, I mean really true then even in the midst of hard things the outcome is absolutely always for your good.
Only when we learn to really trust that he has good things in mind for us will we be able to be happy and joyous even while trials are going on around us.
So know that God loving you isn’t just something we say. It’s not simply something that we use as comfort during the crap of life. God’s love is real and tangible. He will never leave you or forsake you. He always every time has your good in mind! Always.
Rest in the Gospel of Jesus and who you are in Christ.