GOD IS IN CONTROL – COUNT IT ALL JOY
SOVEREIGN! Let this word burn its way deep into your soul! God's sovereignty is the BED-ROCK TRUTH of life! Merriam-Webster says, "Sovereign has everything to do with power. It often describes a person who has supreme power or authority." Note the word "sovereign" has the word "reign" in it. As used in reference to God it refers to His absolute REIGN over all. It is the idea that God is TOTALLY IN CONTROL!
God has His "fingerprints" on everything that happens! He permits some things, He prevents some things, and He promotes some things; but ALL THINGS are under His sovereign control! As Paul wrote: "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." (Rom. 11:36). That little word "all" is a BIG word! There is no such thing as LUCK! There is neither good luck nor bad luck. Rather, the sovereign God is in control of everything all the time.
And yet God's sovereign control does not violate the reality of human responsibility and human response. There is mystery here, but clearly God is sovereignly in control of all! As the book of Revelation says four times, He is the "Alpha and the Omega" (cf. Rev. 1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13). Everything begins and ends with God and He has everything to do with everything in between!
If you see the sovereign hand of God in everything it affects the way you see life. This is the "Bible Way" to see life! God's sovereign CONTROL is on display everywhere all the time. Psalm 19:2 says, "Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge." The relentless pattern of day and night testifies to God's sovereign control and order of nature. In Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas spoke of the witness of God "in that he did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons" (Acts 14:17). The whole of life is continually being ordered by God's sovereign control and nature itself testifies to this reality.
It is with this Bible background regarding the sovereignty of God that James says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (Ja. 1:2). James is not calling us to be masochists who enjoy pain, rather James is calling us to see that God is sovereign over all the trials of life that He permits to come into our lives. It's not that we rejoice in the trial itself, but rather we rejoice in the fact that God is using these trials in our lives for a good and sovereign purpose. It is the truth "that all things work together for good to those who love God" that James ultimately has in view (cf. Rom. 8:28).
In interpreting the Bible, it is always good to read the WHOLE SENTENCE and get the entire flow of thought in CONTEXT! James 1:2 is not the whole thought! He continues on in verse three saying, "KNOWING that the testing of your faith produces patience" (emphasis mine). The trials of life are TESTING times. They are proving times. They are refining times. But note it is in KNOWING that God is at work and using these times that allows us to count in all joy! Our joy is in knowing that the trials of life (under the sovereignty of God) have purpose and value. You could write over the trials of life "God at work"! So, we don't necessarily rejoice in the trial itself - that is not the complete thought; rather we rejoice in KNOWING the truth that through it all God is at work.
And the specific work that James has in mind is that through our trials God is working patience or endurance in our lives. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. They also say, "no pain, no gain". It is true that spiritually speaking we grow stronger in our walk of faith as we go through trials. Trials force us to grow.
Therefore, James says, "let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James here deals with our ATTITUDE in the challenge of trials. Realizing that God is at work to strengthen us through this we should yield to this reality allowing for God's maturing work in our lives to take place. Realizing God is in control of the trial and that it has an ultimately good purpose allows us to meet these challenges with joy - joy in the reality of God's sovereign work in our lives.
Chuck Swindoll says that he believes that life is about 10% percent what happens to us and 90% about our attitude. ATTITUDE is HUGE! We often cannot control what happens to us, but with God's help we can control our attitude KNOWING that God is in control and that He has a good purpose in all that He allows to come into our lives.
The story is told about Joni Eareckson Tada and how she was speaking at a women's conference that was overbooked. Consequently, the chairs were crowded together and some of the women were complaining about it. Joni with her typical smile came up to speak in her motorized wheelchair. She said something like this: "I have heard that some of you are upset about the chairs you are having to sit in. Let me tell you about the chair that God has placed me in since 1967." PERSPECTIVE! Suddenly the entire atmosphere of the conference changed!
When we realize God's sovereignty over our trials it suddenly changes our entire perspective. We bow before God KNOWING He is at work in and through it for our good and His glory! Indeed, armed with this perspective we can "count it all joy" when we fall into various trials.
James 1:2–4 (NKJV)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
God is in Control - Count it all Joy