I remember in gym class being told that pain is good. I have never agreed with that theory. Therefore, when I read James 1:2 and it says “Count it all joy when you face trials and tribulations,” I am tempted to roll my eyes. Then I think about it.
Pain and Praise: Jerry Jordon got it right when he said, “It’s hard to praise the Lord when your thumb is caught in the linen closet.” It’s hard when your knee is shattered. It’s hard when death has torn a loved one away from you. Counting it all joy doesn’t mean that you can’t hurt or shouldn’t grieve. In fact, for the most part, that’s not even what James is talking about. That’s why he seems so controversial.
What does he mean? Think about the time James was writing in. The trials and tribulations he was referring to are more about what was happening to Christians. They were being brought before court, flogged, stoned, beheaded and otherwise suffered. They suffered because of their faith.
While most of the people reading this article don’t face this kind of suffering it is still going on in other parts of the world. The Body of Christ is suffering trials and tribulations.
What about us? When someone is injured or suffers a loss, we often want to console them. There are times when the words of James are used, “count it all joy.” That is *not* the right thing to say. Nor any of the following: “God’s testing you.” “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” “Pain can teach us many lessons.” And so on. They do not help. In fact, they make matters worse.
So, how does this verse affect our walk? We need to pray for our brothers and sisters who are facing what James was talking about. That is the most important thing we can do. There are organizations that are reaching out to them. If you feel led to reach out to them, do so.
When it comes to the misuse of this verse, stop and think before you say it. Telling a grieving mother to count it all joy is a misuse. Using it or others like it for those who have been ill or injured doesn’t help them heal.
Instead, do what other Bible verses instruct you to do. Comfort the grieving…bringing over a casserole for dinner or just sitting with them quietly is far better than words. If someone is seriously ill or injured, ask the family what they need. Be practical and loving. James wasn’t telling us to ignore the “love your neighbor” part of Jesus’ teaching. He was instructing us on how to handle rejection, pain and other problems caused by practicing our faith.