Counting it all Joy: Pt. 2
People often ask me why I sign all of my emails, and other correspondence with the words, "Counting it all Joy." Today is Part 2 of that explanation which comes from the book of James.
James (who was the brother of Jesus) exhorted Christians to consider it all joy when they encountered trials and tribulations. Most of us struggle with this, and here's a compelling reason why.
LOTS of Christians believe that God causes trials and tribulations. That God is the author and finisher, not merely of our faith, but also of our pain. And then the really church-y people in our lives will try to tell us that "God has a plan," and somehow that we won't be worthy of God's love unless we just accept this and soldier on...
So, does God really cause all trials and tribulations?
James, the brother of Jesus, didn't seem to think so.
Compare these two statements:
"If God brought you to it...He'll get you through it."
"God doesn't cause all things, but God is revealed in all things."
That first statement is grounded in the idea that your loyalty, your faith, your worthiness is defined by how you respond to the many tests you have to take... the hoops you have to jump... the hills you have to climb...
The tests, hoops and hills that God has set before you to prove yourself to Him. In this belief system, you better choose wisely. Your relationship with God depends on it, my friend.
But out of those two statements, which one engenders more trust? Which is closer to what James, the brother of Jesus, wrote? Which one would you really want to put on a post-it note and stick in your cubicle at work?
Listen to me... Here's what James knew. He knew that because of the Cross, we don't have to jump through hoops... there are no tests... no more hills to climb to prove our love for God. Because of the Cross, because of what Jesus did for you, and me and for everyone... we don't have to live in fear or dread or with a twisted understanding of how God works in the world.
The Cross is evidence that even in the middle of the darkest moments--the darkness ultimately does not get to win.
May you live into the joy of that knowledge today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.