In this article, we will learn what it means when the Bible talks about counting it all joy by exploring James 1:2-3. So. grab your Bible, and let’s dive in…
Many people find the Book of James challenging to read and understand. It feels like a complex book, full of difficult topics and stern warnings.
And yet, it can be one of the most incredible books once you dive deep into what James was trying to say.
It carries messages of encouragement and guidance to guide us through many tough times.
We can find one such example in the very first verses of the book, where James tells us to count it all joy when we go through trials. But that’s a tall order.
How can we find joy when life throws us curveballs that we don’t expect or know how to handle? James 1:2-3 has some answers. Let’s see what we can learn.
Counting It All Joy
Let’s look at James 1:2-3 in a few translations:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness..” (ESV)
Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. 3 Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].. (AMP)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (NKJV)
From the first verse, we can see that James tells us we are to “count it all joy” when facing various trials. To understand it fully, let’s look at the Greek meanings of the crucial words.
The word translated as “joy” comes from the Greek word “chara” (G5479 in Strong’s Concordance). It can also be translated as “cheerfulness” or “calm delight.”
χαρά chará, khar-ah’; from G5463; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight:—gladness, × greatly, (X be exceeding) joy(-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous).
“Trials” comes from the Greek word “peirasmos” (G3986), which refers to temptations or adversity.
πειρασμός peirasmós, pi-ras-mos’; from G3985; a putting to proof (by experiment (of good), experience (of evil), solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication, adversity:—temptation, × try.
So, James is telling us to be cheerful or calmly delighted whenever temptations and adversity come our way, which is probably one reason why people tend to ignore the Book of James entirely or brush over it briefly.
It’s sometimes hard to swallow what he is saying.
How can James, the brother of Jesus, tell us that we should face trials with cheerfulness?
As if we can be happy when we are diagnosed with a disease, lose a loved one, end up in an accident, find ourselves unemployed, or are challenged in some other way?
But let’s consider who James was writing this for.
His target audience was the Jewish believers in Jerusalem, probably around 40 or 50 A.D.
It was a decade or two after Jesus’ crucifixion, and the church was growing rapidly, not just in Jerusalem but in all the known world.
But, amid that tremendous growth, being a believer was nearly a death sentence. Even the apostles faced martyrdom.
Some Jewish families would disinherit a family member who turned to Christ, and both the Jewish leaders and the Romans were actively trying to stomp out this rising “rebellion.”
Becoming a believer often meant losing everything, and sometimes it even meant death.
Those were the challenges and trials that James’ audience endured and faced daily, so we can’t say he was “out of touch.”
Our trials are different but by no means worse, at least not in most of the Western world. We mostly don’t have to fear open persecution for our beliefs.
So, since James understood the trials, let’s see how we can count our trials as joy.
The Testing Of Our Faith
According to James, we can count our trials as joy because we know that testing our faith produces steadfastness. So, what does that mean?
Firstly, the word “testing” is the Greek word “dokimion” (G1383).
δοκίμιον dokímion, dok-im’-ee-on; neuter of a presumed derivative of G1382; a testing; by implication, trustworthiness:—trial, trying.
It means a trial or test of trustworthiness. What’s being tested is our faith, or “pistis” in Greek (G4102).
It refers to our credence, moral conviction, or, more specifically, our reliance upon Christ for salvation. Not just salvation in the spiritual sense but in every sense.
πίστις pístis, pis’-tis; from G3982; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:—assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.
This testing of our reliance upon Christ will produce steadfastness, which is “hupomone” in Greek (G5281).
It means cheerful or hopeful endurance, constancy, or patient continuance.
ὑπομονή hupŏmŏnē, hoop-om-on-ay’; from G5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy:—enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).
When things happen to us, we often say that God is testing us. But that’s not entirely accurate; according to these verses, God is testing our faith, not us. And that is the key to this scripture.
We, as Christians, believe that God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He knows what we are going through, and He knows our limits.
But we also believe He has the best intentions and plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). After all, what good is someone to the Kingdom if they are so beaten down that they cannot preach the gospel?
And yet, when bad things happen, we often lose this faith and begin to question things. Like Job, it’s easy to conclude that God is unfair.
Sometimes we can find ourselves in a position where we pray and pray for an outcome, but it never seems to come.
But, here we can see that the testing requires patient perseverance, which is the constant belief that God is working on the situation regardless of what our circumstances tell us. That’s the kind of faith that changes our lives and brings miracles.
We all have some limits when it comes to faith. It’s not so much about the amount or size of our faith but about how far it stretches. But let’s think about it for a second.
George Mueller was a believer who built an orphanage that housed more than 10,000 orphans over the years.
It’s often told how, one morning, when he woke up, he was informed that there was no food left, and there were 300 orphans in the house at that time who all had to go through their day without eating.
He instructed the housemother to take the children to the dining room and have them prepare to eat breakfast.
Then George went down to the table and sat down, then prayed, thanking God for the food. Then he waited.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. It was the local baker, who woke up during the night knowing that the orphanage would need bread, so he baked enough. As the children ate, there was another knock.
This time it was the milkman whose cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage, and he knew the milk would spoil by the time he could fix the wheel, so he donated it.
What can we learn from this?
George Mueller understood that trials require a time of quiet faith. He didn’t waver once, at least not openly. Mueller went down and prepared everything as if there was already enough food. After praying, he even waited and didn’t suddenly get up and say, “Well, that didn’t work. Let me go and try to sell something.”
His faith persevered. He knew that God would care for the children, and his faith was unshakable enough for him to persevere through the trial and see the results – God answered his prayers.
We are called “believers,” yet it’s funny how quickly we can stop believing. Hebrews 11:6 says that it’s impossible to please God without faith. Our promises, worship, prayers, and fasting don’t please God unless it is accompanied by faith, and what good would faith be if we received our answers immediately?
If George Mueller stopped believing when he didn’t get an answer immediately, could we even call it faith?
Sometimes, your faith is not measured by its size or volume but by how long you can carry on believing, and the only way to improve that is through trials. If all our prayers were answered immediately, they would not require faith.
So, when you are going through a trial, find out what God is saying about it, then hold on to that truth regardless of how long it takes or what your circumstances say.
God knows what you need and when you need it, so be glad in the sure knowledge that every one of your needs will be met and that the trial will not last forever.
The testing of our faith through trials and tribulations is the only way for our faith to grow. The strength of our faith can be seen in our perseverance, so the longer we hold on to God’s promises in the face of adversity, the more it will shine in the face of those who don’t believe, and the greater the testimony will be when our miracle happens.
So, we can be glad and count it all joy when we face trials because even though it might not seem like it at the moment, it will be a glorious victory when we can remain steadfast in the faith, knowing that God’s will for us is to grow in faith so we can be effective in His Kingdom.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…