A Word From Ron – Consider This Joy?

Have you ever been the recipient of words of “encouragement” when you really don’t
want them. Sometimes I think we just feel like it would be OK for us to let our anger
simmer at that which has happened to us. People mean well, and frankly, they are right
to encourage us to seek the positive side of things, possibilities that perhaps even open
up, if we would let the message or the lesson to be learned in adversity to make us
wiser, stronger, and more patient.
James writes a similar word of encouragement to a group who knows all too well, trials
and persecution. He addressed them as the “twelve tribes… scattered abroad” in James
1:1, which gives two clues as to who he is addressing since the Jewish Christians were
scattered abroad by persecution referred to in Acts 11:19. These “diaspora” have felt
anger, discouragement, and adversity through persecution. James words were meant to
encourage and to help them recognize that through this season of persecution, they are
having their faith expanded to produce patience, steadfastness, and endurance.
I’ve often heard and probably even said, “but isn’t there an easier way to learn these
lessons?” But the truth is, there is no other way to learn these traits, these deep
elements of our faith, than straight through trials and persecution.  
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are
scattered abroad, greeting.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the
trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may
be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:1-3. KJV
I think we often interpret the phrase “count it all joy” as that we should change our
attitude about a situation so that we are suddenly happy about our trials. But James’
use of the word “count” seems to more fit with esteeming or considering another
perspective on it. What if we could see the possibility of growth through this trial. Would
that change how we feel about it?
When I was in high school and college, I loved sports. Back then, I didn’t have a
problem with weight. I was athletic and I could exercise and have fun without giving any
consideration for the health benefits. Fast forward three decades and “x” pounds
heavier, I can’t play sports like I used to, and exercise has to be deliberate, or my health
will be in jeopardy. And I don’t get any “joy” in exercising anymore! But I do it! I try to do
it regularly, daily, in spite of the inconvenience and the pain, because I want to live and
be healthy to watch my kids and grandkids grow up, I want to serve the Lord and want
to do a lot more around the world. So resulting from my drive for better health and a

longer life, consider another perspective on that pain and trail in that it produces
something I have a goal of achieving.
Similarly, James encourages this persecuted diaspora to let the patience that is being
exercised through their persecution accomplish what it has the potential to do longer
term, increase their faith, resulting in their feeling complete, lacking nothing. If
temporary trials can provide these things for the rest of our life, wouldn’t it be worth any
temporary discomfort and suffering?
Knowing ahead of time what God would have in store for me on the other side of my
current trial brings a level of calm delight, some might even call joy, which totally
changes my perspective on the current set of circumstances. That’s a choice I’m willing
to make.

Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
President / CEO
August 7, 2023

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