James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”, (James 1:2-3). Eh hem…for real…!!! In practice we do the opposite don’t we? Because the very last place we want to be, is facing trials. If like me you struggle with the concept of rejoicing while facing trials; struggle with the idea that somehow these events are really really “good” for us, then I’m feeling your pain, hi five!! Let’s take some pain medicine and be encouraged together.
Let’s be honest…nobody or very very few people count it all joy when things go “Pete Tong” (Cockney for things going wrong). In fact, let’s just call it like it is… it’s a horrible feeling, it’s the last experience I would want and I know deep down you agree. Possibly afterwards when the dust settles we may reflect and realise the entire situation worked for our good. But in the middle of the test, boy oh boy, our minds are everywhere else, but at the place of counting the “drama” as joy.
I’m learning a lot about being a spiritual soldier, it’s not easy. Someone in the gym said to me, pain is your body getting rid of weakness. Interesting concept. Jesus said if your right hand offends cut it off. That is radical. But over the years the only radical thing we are advised is – if you have a drinking problem don’t stop at a pub…duh!!! What about the supermarket corner shop, the drinks cabinet at home? Jesus wants us to deal with the issue, avoidance is not a solution, avoidance is not radical enough..!!!
The answers to every spiritual challenge is actually quite radical. Imagine the effort it takes to keep cool, all the while inside you’re boiling worse than a volcano. James says we must count it all joy. Excuse me!! Does James understand how oppressive it is; perhaps you have to listen to colleagues swear all day; resisting the pressure to be dishonest – what is there to count as joy in those situations? Well everything, because it’s an opportunity to build our faith and character….!!
Not to long ago, someone at work got a rollicking (told off harshly), my view was “he will live”. I was called “hard”. Well I was actually speaking from first hand experience. Previously a project manager interjected my conversation which he wasn’t party to and in a frustrated voice, said “no no no no Roy you’re wrong”. I asked him to give me a moment. He raised his voice and said “no you’re wrong”. So I tried to be assertive without malice because I was 100% right (really hard), I said “allow me to do my job, I’ve been doing it for 20 years, please give me a moment” – and I though I said it like a good Christian would – with the softest tone I could muster. Well needless to say, that didn’t go down very well.
He stepped back. But later he came over and said to me, “tone it down, you embarrassed me in front of everyone”. I think my eyes displayed my disbelief…This dude butted into a conversation he knew nothing about; shouted at me in front of everyone…and I am the one that should tone it down!!
By this time my voice was trembling, I knew I had to take a moment to compose myself… I called Mrs Mc and left her a voicemail. She sent a text with – say a prayer. At that moment I want to vent because how could this happen, where did all this come from to my door? Later on I called my operations manager and asked him to have a word with the project manager. At the end of the conversation he said, now Roy I need you to be the bigger man…I know you were in the right but you have to be the bigger man…
Scriptures starts going through my mind, blessed are the peacemakers…count it all joy. Thank God for God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit…the ways of the Lord are prefect, they are a lap to my path… So I let go (really did), got up, went over and sat next to the project manager, used his first name and said one short sentence. “I apologise”. His eyes popped out of his head in shock. He gave be a hug (bro-mance). He said no I should apologise to you and did.
When reflecting on this, there was no pain of the situation, I understood the pressure he was under and thought in future I should do everything I can to help relieve some of the pressure on him. It transpired he had just been dressed down by a director and left that meeting totally humiliated.
I got confirmation of a valuable spiritual lesson. We are happy that Jesus died for our sins so that we can be restored to God and enjoy eternity. Remember Jesus asked if possible for this cup to pass…because accepting punishment for something you didn’t do is not fun, but spiritually leads to glory. Jesus was punished and died for my sins, He didn’t commit my sins, I did…!!
So let’s put aside the victim culture. Let’s count it a joy when facing these experiences. Off course I know it’s not easy, Jesus never promised easy, Jesus promised radical. When our brothers and sisters ask us to pray for “help”. Remember James 1:2-3, and change the prayer to celebration…never pray for help in that situation when you should be praying joy. Because God wants us to develop perseverance, which is a major aspect of agape love.