"Consider it pure joy my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds." James 1:2
There is a song that always makes me bob my head when it comes on the radio. Here are the beginning lyrics and I am sure that you will be singing along...
Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy
Don't worry, be happy now
I was curious one day and did some research about the inspiration for that song. Here is what Wikipedia taught me:
The Indian mystic and sage Meher Baba (1894–1969) often used the expression "Don't worry, be happy" when cabling his followers in the West. However, Meher Baba communicated variations of the sentiment; fuller versions of the quote – such as, "Do your best. Then, don’t worry; be happy in My love. I will help you"— which incorporate responsibility with detachment, as well as the master/disciple spiritual relationship.
I do like the concept of responsibility with detachment and master/disciple spiritual relationship. However I am not convinced that being "happy" is what God intends for my life.
We, Americans have this engrained in our brains that
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.Those words penned on July 4, 1776 are echoed in the Declaration of the Rights of Men and Citizens, penned by a revolutionary French assembly in 1789, with the exception of the word happy.
Those two countries at the time were going through some major turmoils and faced many trials of many kinds. Yet when making a declaration the concept of freedom and happiness was there. How can this be? I do not know about you but I never had to face the kind of trials that those men and women faced. The few that I faced rarely made me consider pure joy.
James here uses the word joy not happiness. The word happy in the Hebrew language is esher, and is mainly translated as blessed. It is only used a few times, Job 5:17; Psalms 1:1; 2:12; 144:15; Proverbs 8:32; Daniel 12:12.
ʾEsher, the word translated “happy” (kjv, nlt), can also be translated as “blessed.” These two felicitous states of human beings are intimately laced together. They are at times impossible to differentiate in some biblical passages; by definition, the Lord blesses the happy person and the person blessed by the Lord is happy. Holman Treasury of Key Bible WordsHappiness is a secondary emotion to joy, an overflow of joy.
A quality or attitude of delight and happiness, which is ultimately grounded in the work of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Among the many situations in which joy is experienced, Scripture recognises as supreme being accepted in the presence of God. Dictionary of Bible ThemeThe question remains, how I can consider it pure joy to face trials? If God loves me, why isn't He taking those trials away? If God is all powerful, why does He let me suffer?
The questions are hard. The answer is simple.
Think of Job. Job was a good, godly, god-fearing. Yet Job had trials after trials after trials. Yet he NEVER cursed God. Job loses everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Yet he never curses God. His wife tells him to, his friends tell him to. He holds his ground and NEVER curses God. He just makes appeal after appeal. Finally in chapter 31 Job makes his last appeal. Here is his claim:
In my innocence, I cry out for a hearing before God (31:1–40).
1. I have not looked with lust on a maiden (31:1–4).
2. I am not guilty of lying or deceit (31:5–8).
3. I have not committed adultery (31:9–12).
4. I have treated my servants fairly (31:13–15).
5. I have been generous and kind to the poor and the disadvantaged (31:16–23).
6. I have neither worshiped gold nor celestial bodies (31:24–28).
7. I have not rejoiced in others’ ruin (31:29–30).
8. I have not refused hospitality to anyone (31:31–32).
9. I have nothing to hide, but I wish God would give me a written statement of charges (31:33–37).
10. I have not withheld payment for the laborers on my land (31:38–40).
Job is saying, I am a righteous man yet I am suffering. None of this makes sense and he feels that he would be better off, if he was sinning. He quickly finds out that he is speaking without knowledge. Bottom-line God is just. And God answers.
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;I will question you, and you make it known to me.“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Job 48:2-4
Then suddenly Job understands and cries out
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further.” Job 40:4-5
God's answer is like a slap in the face
Dress for action like a man Job 40:7
Ouch...... Then God keeps on talking and reminds Job of the things that only He can do. Even though Job had proclaimed in chapter 19 that His redeemer lives, he did not get it. Then God revealed all of His power and glory to him. Then Job knew without the shadow of a doubt that His redeemer lives and concludes with those words:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Job 42:2-3
Job prayed and God accepted his prayer and restored his fortunes.
So why rejoice when we face trials of many kinds? Because only then can we get to see the glory and power and majesty of God. Only then can we grow in our faith. Only then can we know Him and know without ANY doubt that Our Redeemer lives.