I am currently leading a ladies’ Bible study at our home church while we navigate the waters of Pre-field Ministry and wait on God’s timing to take us to the mission field. I love meeting with “my ladies” and chatting about God’s Word. Recently we worked through Beth Moore’s Bible study on the book of James. I had been wanting to do this study for quite some time, and it did not disappoint. One of my favorite passages in the book of James is chapter one, which of course includes that most famous of verses, “Count it all joy…”
In my musings on this passage, God showed me a couple of things. First of all, “count” (or “consider” depending on your version of the Bible) is not an emotional response, but a mental one. It’s a choice that we have to look at our trials as a deposit in our “joy” accounts. Are the trials themselves joy-filled? Not mine, anyway! But, because I know that they are working a greater good in my life–endurance-produced maturity (James 1:2-4)–I can count them as joy.
Secondly, I was reminded that God’s gifts are not always prettily wrapped in beautiful paper and colorful bows. Our trials, if they are a deposit in our joy accounts, are gifts. And God’s gifts are perfect (James 1:17). Perfect for the intended recipient. Hand-picked to develop us and mature us. And God’s gifts are good. As Matthew reminds us, if our earthly fathers won’t give us stones when we ask for bread, how much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matt. 7:9-11). The key? Trusting God’s great love for us. Trusting that He knows what He is doing. That His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). As the Twila Paris song goes, “When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.”
So, how do I apply all of this to my life right now? I’m choosing to find joy in our journey through the days and months (and possibly years) of Pre-field Ministry. I’m choosing to accept the trials in my life, both past and present, as building blocks to greater maturity in Christ. I’m choosing to accept God’s gifts no matter how they are wrapped, knowing that He will never give me something ugly or bad. All things work together for my good because I love Him, and He loves me. And that, I can definitely count on! How about you?