SECRETS IN THE CHURCH
The ‘Cost’ I Didn’t Count…
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2
Rejoice in our sufferings? Find joy in trials?
When you are suffering, you don’t want lofty church things said to you, right?
You want genuine, authentic relationship.
There have been times that I have suffered greatly. As a church planter, something I did not count was the ‘cost’ for my children. When people start attending the church, love is given by God through His people. When people chose to leave the church in an ungodly way, there is wreckage left behind. How many times have I comforted my children after someone they love leaves? How many times have I looked at their tear-stained faces and whispered, “It’s going to be okay?”
There are secrets in the larger body of Christ. If someone doesn’t like ‘this’ or ‘that’ or ‘them’, they leave the local church. We are there to pick up the pieces. That is the calling of leadership.
It is a ‘cost’ I didn’t count. Sure, we as leaders can endure but what about our children?
They got pulled into this by default; they are Pastor’s kids.
So how do I help them navigate the losses and the blessings of church?
James says, “Consider it pure joy.” Really?
Pure joy when I’m suffering... and when my children are suffering?
Pure joy to me was my wedding day, was having my children, or a daydream about sitting on a warm quiet beach under an umbrella with a cool water in my hand… Pure joy is NOT going through trials!
What do Paul (Romans 5:1-5) and James (James 1:2) mean as they write this truth through the power of the Holy Spirit?
Does God really want us to suffer?
God is saying here that He knows we will suffer and wants us to have JOY in Him anyway. He is not saying that he desires for us to suffer. He knows that we will suffer because we live in a fallen and broken world that is affected by our own sin and other’s sin.
So, like a good father He is showing us how to endure, how to heal, how to function in suffering... even in GREAT suffering.
The world defines joy as, "happiness coming from good happenings.” Sounds superficial, doesn’t it?
The world’s joy is definitely not going to get us through suffering or help us persevere.
Let’s look at Biblical joy: The word “joy” here is “kara” which means "a deep inner gladness regardless of circumstances coming from a deep relationship with God." Now that sounds like something I can get on board with!
James is asking us in James 1:2, “Consider!” This means I have to make a decision. Is he wanting us to analyze every suffering and trial and try to have joy in it? No. That would not be obeying the Scripture from Phil. 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
The Greek meaning for “consider” is saying “make a once and for all time decision." God is asking us to be pre-conditioned in our choice to persevere in joy! He is appealing to our will. Meditate on that.
People have a strong will, don’t we? Even the most timid person can be determined. My Mom is the sweetest lady you will ever meet. But boy, put her in that kitchen and she determines that the brownies are going to be moist and baked to perfection… and they are! Put her in a garden and by golly, that stubborn plant is going to grow! Determination! Will!
He wants us to DO something. Consider your lives, and consider Jesus, and do something. Consider these trials as joy!
“Whenever you face trials of many kinds…” This part of the verse is key. “To face” means to fall into the midst of something so that you’re surrounded. Are you surrounded?
You’re walking along in your life and you sink into quicksand. The only way out is that someone pulls you upward.
Jesus said we would suffer. This is foundational!
Jesus said it, and Paul and James said it.
We need to understand that having “enough faith” doesn’t save us from suffering. This is not a faith issue.
In John 16 Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.” If we are going to faithfully endure we have to accept this truth.
We don’t have to like it, but we have to accept it.
God uses the hard things to develop something in us so that we can get through life with JOY.
The next phrase in this verse, “You will know that the testing of your faith will produce steadfastness.”
This isn’t head knowledge. This is soul knowledge.
Remember the high in the sky, churchy thinking? That’s not what we are after.
I want that more than survival in the body of Christ. I want to thrive, to persevere, and to conquer!
We settle because we don’t want to go through the process of maturity.
“Most people count it all joy when they escape trials but they count it all grief when they endure them.” - Billy Graham
Isn’t that true?
I want to go even deeper. Let’s look down the page on the same letter and in the same context at James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
Do we take that verse out of context? You bet we do.
Good gifts are my spiritual blessings, my good health, and my trials? My trials are a good and perfect gift from God.
Trials are gifts. It’s His goodness. God is testing the junk inside me and bringing up gold.
Jesus is helping me to mature into a joyful Christian, a light to the world, an encourager, a hopeful friend, a faithful servant to the church… and to you!
These are rewards of faithful endurance. Do you get confused about what to do in the midst of trials?
In James 1:5 he says that if you need wisdom just ask.
God will teach us how to BEAR UP under it.
Are you in a place where you need wisdom?
Turn to Jesus.
Wisdom is our gift as Christians! We can ask. James says that God will not rebuke us for asking! He is a generous giver.
Back to my question; how do I help my children navigate the blessings and the sorrows of church life?
I will teach them (by the grace of Jesus) to 'consider it all JOY!'