Friday, July 7, 2023



Monday morning I took my Bible to spend some quiet time with  the Lord. It was a beautiful morning and the patio was so inviting! 
My first question to Him was .. "What can I share in this week's devotional?"  Immediately the answer came ... "Go to the book of James."  I did and started reading the first chapter. My eyes and attention stopped at the word 'fall' and I knew here lay my lesson.  
In context this verse (James 1:2) is talking about trials of life.  Interesting that it uses the word 'fall' to describe how we meet the trials of our life.  I looked up the Greek word translated 'fall' and the meaning is ... " to fall into something that is all around, i.e. light among or upon, be surrounded with:--fall among (into)."
Have you fallen lately? 
In this short lesson,  I want to point out the parallels between a physical fall and how applicable the use of this word  'fall' is  in relation to our trials. 

We never fall 'on purpose', do we?   If we were told one morning we were going to fall,that day, I think we would seriously consider just staying in bed and avoiding the experience, wouldn't we?  
We don't want it, we don't plan it, we don't anticipate it,  it happens unexpectedly - suddenly we find ourselves on the ground.  
Could we not describe the trials of our life the same way?  A trial is not a welcome event in our life, it is not something we plan for.  It happens , often suddenly, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  Whether our trials involve failing health, financial trouble, broken or troubled relationships, loss of loved ones, a missed appointment, stuck in traffic, a broken dish or burnt toast, we all have days that just go wrong!  We could each write our own list of things that  upset our life or cause us stress or worry. 

The James verse begins with the words .. "count it all joy!"  I have never seen someone fall, or tell of a fall  where joy was the expressed emotion!  When we physically fall, the closest to feeling  'joy'  is the feeling of relief if we are not seriously hurt !  Could it be that that is where the 'joy' lies in our trials, knowing we won't be seriously hurt when the trial is over?  

When we fall, being 'surrounded' with the fall is an apt description, isn't it?  Suddenly, in the blink of an eye you are totally 'encompassed' by the experience.  All else leaves your mind,   Nothing else is important. You are focused on one thing - you have fallen!!  
So also with the trials of life. When we 'fall' into them, we are encompassed by the trial.  Everything else in our life  slips down the list of our priorities. The trial captures  our thoughts, our emotions, our focus. We desperately look for an escape. .

When we fall, after we have determined that we are not dead, or seriously injured, our focus immediately shifts to how we are going to get up !  No one just stays down if  they are able to get up or have help in getting up !  
So also in a life-trial,   our mind races to find a solution or escape. But we can make the mistake of wallowing in our misery and giving in to the debilitating emotion. .  We are so overcome or discouraged we don't think of 'getting up' - it seems impossible, we are weighed down and blinded by our distress. 

"Count it all joy, my friend!"   No?  not there yet?  

My favorite Bible character is Joseph.  We all love his story.  We love him being given authority, the position of a ruler,  second only to Pharaoh himself.  We love how he provided food for so many, including his own family.  We love how he treated his brothers, tested them and forgave them.  It is such a great story !!  
BUT ...  do we read the 'before' and see how in  Joseph we see our James scripture played out as an example to follow? 
Didn't Joseph 'fall' into trials?   First, he 'fell' into his brothers' evil intentions.  He 'fell' into being sold.  He 'fell' into becoming a slave' ... He 'fell' into being falsely accused and 'fell'  into prison. He even 'fell' into being forgotten by someone who promised to help him.  
None of the trials he 'fell' into were anticipated nor could he have done anything to avoid them.  Did Joseph count them all joy?  I don't think so.  It must have been terrifying for a teen-ager to be 'sold' and dragged away from his father and his home.
We know he suffered - which is a given,  otherwise it wouldn't be a trial, right? 
 We read in Psalm 105:17,18 "He sent a man before them - Joseph - who was sold as a slave, they hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons.."   The passage goes on to say "the Lord tested him" until the right time for the Lord's word to be fulfilled.  
Is that where Joseph found his 'joy' ? In remembering, knowing, believing  the dreams in which God had spoken to him about what was to come - what God's plan for his life was.    God's word to Joseph was never in jeopardy - it was never threatened. 
Joseph could have 'fallen'  into his trials and given up, staying down, giving up.  Who would have blamed him?  Yet he didn't. While his 'trials' surely encompassed him, and there was little joy in the midst of them, he didn't stay down.  In every trial, he got up and walked through it, knowing God was with him. In the end his declaration was that while his trials were 'meant for evil',  God used them for good !!  

That is joy, isn't it?  To never lose hope?  To never forget that our trials are for a good purpose leading to God's goodness poured out into our life and into eternity?  That our trials can work out for good in His kingdom?

We see the perfect example in Jesus Himself.  When He faced the trial of His life - a trial more horrific than any of can imagine - we are told where the 'joy' was.  
Hebrews 12:2 tells us that because of the 'joy set before Him",  He endured the cross. It was not the trial itself that was 'joy' , it was what it would produce.
Having the hope and assurance of what a trial will produce gives us the strength and perseverance to endure the trial.  We think of a woman facing the pain of childbirth which she endures for the 'joy set before her', the hope of the child soon to fill her arms and heart. 
So also our James passage 'sets the joy before us'.  If we endure the trials that come our way - be they big or small - then we will enjoy the 'fruit' of the trials. Patience, and Romans 5:3-4 adds character and hope.  And we read in verse 5,  hope never disappoints because God's love has been poured out in our hearts. 

If you find yourself 'encompassed' by a trial you would dearly have avoided, take comfort and be encouraged, there is a secure 'hope' anchored in the promises of God.  When the right time comes, God's word to you WILL come to pass. And then you will echo Joseph's words, "It was meant for evil but God meant it for good !!  
"Count it all joy...." my friend.