I was in the ninth week of leading my Surprised by the Healer study group. The next chapter, “Discovering a Gift in Your Pain,” had the memory verse:
My brethren, COUNT IT ALL JOY when you fall into various trials. James 1:2 (NKJV)
I really wanted to understand what James was saying! I had so many questions! I had to understand.
First I found the Greek word for joy means “metonymically the cause, ground, occasion of joy.” What does metonymically mean? It comes from the word metonymy meaning, “the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant.” An example is the word “crown,” used to refer to royalty.
So, the word joy here is another way of saying “the cause, ground, or occasion for joy.” Birthday or anniversary an occasion for joy? Yes! Pain or trial an occasion for joy? I'm not so sure!
Then there's that phrase “count it all joy.” It is a joy to count gifts on my birthday, but to count all the pain and trials I have been through with joy?
The Greek word for count may also be translated “consider” or “evaluate.” My natural response to trials is NOT to rejoice. I must make a conscious commitment to face trials with joy.
I also found the Greek word for joy is “cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight.”
“Calm delight.” I know I prefer to face difficulty CALMLY rather than with fear. As a nurse, I know the word “evaluate” means I need to think through the situation at hand. To do that well I need to be calm. I need to make a conscious effort to commit to face that difficulty. This isn't always easy, especially if I look at it from my own perspective rather than God's.
Also looking at the phrase “count it all joy,” Philippians 3:1 says “Finally, rejoice in the Lord.” “In the Lord” signifies where my joy exists—unrelated to the circumstances of life, but related to an unassailable, unchanging relationship to my sovereign Lord.
In my Faithbook are notes from the sermons “Manifesto of Joy” where Philippians 1:1-26 jumped out at me. I wrote:
I can have a foundation of joy but it can't be dependent on my happiness, feelings, circumstances, or any facet of my life. My joy is dependent on Jesus Christ! If I expect life to be without difficulty I will never have true joy. Instead, I will find bitterness and depression. God has a better plan!
To have joy, like Paul, I need to have two desires: to live and produce fruitful labor, and to depart to be with Christ.
My joy can be hindered by Satan, demons, and the spiritual battle going on in my life.
Joy in crisis creates opportunity for the Gospel to grow. Am I clinging to the joy of Jesus despite my trials?
I know I have joy in my life when I remember others and pray for them despite what is going on in my own life. AND I can face death with joy by knowing I have a knowledge of ultimate salvation, believers praying for me, the Holy Spirit, and that Christ will be made great.
I was beginning to grasp what James 1:2 was trying to say but I had more to learn . . . .
Part 2 next week!
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