James 1:1-11 (New King James Version)
1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:
Greetings.2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
I find these verses tremendously encouraging. Trials are a part of this sinful world we find ourselves in, and yet, God uses them to not only make us "perfect" in Him, but to bless us and teach us and take us to our knees, where we should be anyway, to seek Him for direction and wisdom and yes, blessings.
While I was reading this passage and the comments, I couldn't help thinking of these verses in Matthew 7:7-11
" Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"
I especially think about how God is our loving Father, who only wants the very best for us.
I also think about how, as I pray, God moves in my heart to trust Him and not doubt Him. It often takes time in prayer, and God seems to fill me with confidence. Even if I don't get the "outcome" I am looking for.
I have also been thinking about the verses in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,
"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. "
These seem to go with the "count it all joy" idea. I can think of no time in my life that this was harder than when we lost our daughter. I don't talk about it much, but it seems appropriate here. She died the Saturday before Thanksgiving several years ago. While, of course, it was incredibly hard, I am so thankful that God planned events the way he did. When Thanksgiving day rolled around, and I knew the above verses, and knowing that joy and rejoicing were a choice, not a "happy" emotion, I spent time in the bathroom, on the floor, crying and just verbally thanking God for every little thing that had happened. In so doing, God was able to minister to me and remind me that he has a plan and is in control. It brought me great comfort and freedom.
While this is a severe situation, sometimes I think I forget to chose to be thankful in the little trials. I get irritated, etc., instead of "counting it all joy". And, somehow, by counting it all joy, I think that helps take away the doubt, freeing me to ask God with sincerity. It is a process and it is difficult, and yet, therein my faith is renewed and God is able to bless freely...even in the midst of a trial....
Would that I would ALWAYS count it all joy!