I’ve been working for over a week on a post about counting it all joy. And honestly I’m still unsure that I truly understand it as much as I’d like, but I decided that maybe what I need to do is share and see where God takes us…
Today I have two meetings that I’m a little bit dreading.
The first is this morning…it’s a child study meeting for one of my daughters. This isn’t the first one. Unfortunately they never go as I hope. The people at her school are always kind as they say no to the assistance she truly needs. It is heartbreaking for me.
And adding insult to injury, I must sit beside my ex-husband who will sometimes come. Today will probably be one of those days. I could just not tell him about the meetings, but that seems wrong. Good for me, but wrong.
The other day I even thought, “If he were home he’d already know about these meetings, I wouldn’t have to tell him. Maybe I just won’t remind him.” Then I realized I can’t spend the rest of ever so many years punishing him for his horrible, hurtful decision. I forgave him and must take those thoughts captive.
Having him there is annoying, frustrating, and infuriating at times. His portrayal of his involvement with our daughter is exceedingly exaggerated. It makes me want to holler, “But he doesn’t help at all!!!” He’s a fake!!!” But why? Well first and foremost, because I’m a sinner and I want things my way…but also because I want him to either step up or hush up…because I want things to be different…I want things to not hurt, to not frustrate…because I want joy.
I’m thinking maybe the idea of count it all joy fits my situation…even this silly situation with my ex-husband. I just gotta figure out how.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Today my Bible study asked me, “What does it mean to count it all joy?”
Boy, is that a verse I’ve memorized and thought about and referenced a lot without ever truly pondering what it means.
And like I said, I’m pondering as I write…I don’t have an answer. A feeling, yes. An answer, not so much.
I know the reality of counting it all joy…I think.
I have known joy that makes no sense…
joy that pours over even the hardest season.
joy that comforts and strengthens.
joy that brings peace when all else seems chaotic.
And yet, even though I know that joy…do I truly “count it all joy.”
Drat, I don’t think I do.
When I saw that question this morning, I didn’t have an immediate answer, but I can see that God is answering it for me.
Recently I read a chapter in Corrie ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place with my children. I love that book – highly recommend it. If you are unfamiliar with the story, Corrie and her family hid Jews in Holland during WWII and were arrested. This is her story. It has layer upon layer of beautiful examples of God’s provision, faithfulness, and love in the worst of circumstances.
In the chapter we read this morning Corrie and her sister Betsie have just been transferred to an extermination camp in Germany.
This is part of the dialogue between Corrie and Betsie:
I wailed, “Betsie, how can we live in such a place!”
“Show us. Show us how.” It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“Corrie!” she said excitedly. “He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!”
They were reading in 1st Thessalonians…
…encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always,pray without ceasing, give thank in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
Betsie excitedly shares with Corrie, “That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer, “Give thanks in all circumstances! That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!”
Corrie is incredulous. She initially cannot understand how to give thanks in “the dark, foul-aired room.” Betsie points out the very many blessings even in their horrid situation. And Corrie begins to see that there indeed is a God-given way to give thanks in all circumstances.
I feel like Corrie most of the time….”How can I find a way to rejoice here, Lord?”
But again and again, God reminds me of the wonderful ways He has blessed me.
A few days ago, as I walked past my youngest daughter’s room I noticed the sunlight streaming through the windows and I thought, “Lord, thank you! Thank you for this house. Thank you for beautiful sunlight!”
There are many things we can thank God for in any given day if we look. But even then I’m thanking God for the things, the circumstances in my life. I don’t believe that is what God means by “count it all joy.”
What am I counting joy? In the verse in James, it’s trials.
Count it all joy
…when I can’t find the support and answers I need for my little girl
…when I have to deal with a man who I really don’t want to have to even see
…when God calls me to love the unlovable
…when God doesn’t answer my prayers as I hoped
…when the struggles and complexities of life are overwhelming
Does counting it joy mean that I look for the blessings and the things to be thankful for? To some degree I believe so.
But I’m beginning to see that really counting it all joy is about me looking to Jesus, my Savior, the author and perfecter of my faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
The joy is the understanding that these troubles are nothing in comparison to the joy of eternity.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The joy is the confidence that we have an eternal inheritance.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3-7
So truly, the joy is the gospel.
I know this has already been a lot of words and now I’ve added a lot of verses….but please take the time to read them. Remind yourself again of the great grace of the gospel…of the power of His resurrection in your life…and see how often God shows us the gospel’s strength to carry us through our struggles, trials and sufferings.
For while we were still weak, at just the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:13-14
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:12-14
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7
Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5
As I read those verses again I was reminded of the gospel’s power to enable me to count it all joy in the struggles. It’s an eternal perspective. An “it will all be worth it” perspective.
Count our blessings, absolutely.
Think on those things that bless us…the way God provides…the source of our strength. Cultivate gratitude.
Count it all joy, definitely.
Think again and again of the gospel. Of what the gospel means for our lives….
A glorious eternal inheritance
The Holy Spirit and all His fruit
Jesus, my Savior
God, my Father
You could probably add more to that list. I certainly could.
So this count it all joy thing…I think I’m beginning to understand it.
And again God has brought me back to the gospel.
We are blessed beyond measure because of Jesus…
and that is all joy!