The question is how?
The fact that James commands us to consider trials all joy means considering trials all joy is not our natural reaction.
If we are going to experience joy in the middle of trials – we must do something!
That is so important to understand. We can’t wait until we feel joy in the middle of trials, we have to step up to the plate and take action.
We must stop listening to ourselves and start talking to ourselves.
James says we have to consider trials a reason for joy.
To consider means ‘to lead.’ When life gets difficult we must not merely follow our feelings, but take control of our mind and lead it down the right path.
He’s talking about the way we think about the trial. James isn’t commanding us to feel all joy in the middle of a trial. We won’t always feel like trials are a reason for all joy. But we must not allow our emotions to control us. James is calling on us to make a deliberate, determined commitment to think appropriately when we are in the midst of a trial.
Jay Adams explains, “When you are suddenly surrounded by a trial what is required is hard thinking…stop, think and learn.”
That takes discipline. It doesn’t just magically happen. If we are going to respond to trials the way God desires, we must learn to discipline our minds to think biblically about the situation we are in.
To do so requires working on changing old habit patterns. As Jay Adams writes, “Over the years, perhaps you’ve slackened the reigns and allowed your mind to muck around in the well-worn pathways into which your sinful nature used to lead your mind. But now redeemed by the blood of Christ, regenerated by His Spirit and given a new heart oriented towards God and capable of living for Him, you are able to seize control of the reigns and lead your mind to the pure, refreshing waters of life. In other words, in any and all trials, if you deliberately take the time and make a prayerful effort to consider them as God does you will reach the place where you look on them entirely as a blessing – and rejoice. But you will not rejoice until you learn to consider trials what God does.”
Please understand, this command doesn’t mean we are supposed to pretend like trials do not hurt. Jesus wept and He was perfect. When He was on the cross, He cried out “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?” That’s real pain. True joy isn’t incompatible with genuine sorrow. But true joy is incompatible with self-pity and hopelessness.
Imagine a billionaire traveling overseas. The man has it all, everything the world has to offer. But while overseas, he’s mugged. A thief steals everything he has in his wallet, and beats him up pretty badly.
Certainly, the billionaire is not going to say, “That felt really good, I just love being beaten and robbed. You know what, get me that muggers number, I want to do that again sometime soon.” And if he did, we’d respond, “You might think about getting your head examined.”
But on the other hand we’d think he was pretty strange if he just sat in his room weeping uncontrollably because some of his money was stolen and he lost his favorite wallet. And if he did, we’d say, “I recognize you are hurting but remember what
you’ve got back home.”
When we are in a trial it is normal to hurt; but it’s wrong to be destroyed. When we are hurting it’s natural to grieve, but it’s wrong to grieve like God doesn’t exist. We must not think of our trial as a reason to be crushed, to be overwhelmed with self-pity, to give up, to complain against God or to wallow in our own misery.
Instead we should think on that trial as a reason to give thanks. Our trial, whatever it is, is a reason for joy!