Joy: deep satisfaction and assurance that God is in control no matter what our circumstances are.
James 1:1-2 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
James was Jesus’ brother who was saved after the resurrection. He gave a strong admonition to count it joy when we fall into temptations or hard trials. Our first response isn’t joy when we are hit with a hard trial.
There are some conditions we must realize to find joy in the hard trial:
- God is in control and we’re not.
- God does not need us, we need him.
- Whatever God requires of us, he will supply.
One of the first fruits of the Spirit that God wants us to have is joy. There’s no spiritual growth without a struggle. God doesn’t want us to disguise our pain. He knows we’re human. Paul said the joy is set before us when we suffer.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
God sent an angel to give Jesus spiritual strength as he suffered and was miserable in his agony. The joy was before him that if he willingly committed his life to God, he would make it to heaven. He couldn’t act on how he felt.
Luke 22:39-46 And he came…to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And…said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer…his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said…Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
We need to be committed that we’re going through our hard trials and to heaven, no matter what happens. It’s our choice if we have joy or bitterness, hatred or love in the hard trial. We can’t act according to our feelings to direct us. Our emotions will say “you’re not saved” or “there’s something wrong with you,” etc. Our trials aren’t meant to make us fall. Job’s trial wasn’t to make him fall but to prove he loved God above everything. Jesus got help for victory in agony on his knees in prayer. Satan wants us to think no one has gone through what we are. Paul said all trials are “common to man: but God…will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but…make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13). God will deliver us from the enemy’s traps and all the noise he sends to our mind in our trials.
Psalm 91:1-4 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…He is my refuge and my fortress…him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and…noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
When the Israelites were at the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army behind, an angel stood behind as a cloud of “darkness to them…so that the one came not near the other…” (Exodus 14:19-28). Moses reached his rod over the water and God sent wind to divide the sea for a way to escape. Pharaoh’s army was destroyed. The Israelites had joy after God helped them. We need to stay close to God so his angel intervenes when we need help. God will put his angel between us and danger.
Psalm 91:9-11 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge…thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Elijah had called fire down from heaven and killed the prophets of Baal so Jezebel threatened to kill him. He ran away as any of us would and then he wanted to die. God wasn’t upset but sent an angel to help him twice.
I Kings 19:3-8…he arose, and went for his life…and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life…And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree…an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat…and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water… And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel…came again the second time…said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he…did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days…
We need to listen to the still small voice if we’re discouraged. Our joy in hard trials is a deep assurance and knowledge that God has everything under control and will help us. God doesn’t want us to condemn or trouble anyone that is in a hard trial and discouraged. God didn’t condemn Elijah for his emotions but encouraged him and gave him jobs to do.
I Kings 19:9-12 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there…Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord…children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go…stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a…strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks…but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after…a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
I Kings 19:15-16 And the Lord said…return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu…anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha…anoint to be prophet in thy room.
Job wanted to die and had no joy when he faced his hard trial.
Job 3:1-3 After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day…Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
Job’s friends and family deserted him because they believed he did something wrong so was suffering his calamities. Jesus said we would suffer tribulation but to be of good cheer because he has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Job 19:13-19 He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. They that dwell in mine house…count me for a stranger…I called my servant, and he gave me no answer…My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children’s sake…Yea, young children despised me…All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.
Job’s confidence was in God when he couldn’t find God. In hard trials God’s word needs to be more important than food.
Job 19:25-26 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Job 23:8-12 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand…I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
In every trial God has a lesson for us and wants us to learn patience and perseverance. The trial works our patience.
Job 23:16-17 For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me: Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face.
When Job prayed for his friends, God turned everything around and Job was blessed with more than he had before.
Job 42:10-13 And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also…gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came there unto him all his brethren…and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread…and comforted him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money…So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning…He had also seven sons and three daughters.
There’s a time for everything, time to weep, time to mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:4), and then a time to go and pray for others.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)