Consider & Ponder
I don’t know about you, but I’m not always very joyful these days. Tying on a surgical mask each morning is not a cause for celebration. I miss seeing friends and family, grocery shopping is a whole process now, and there is so much uncertainty about how, when, and if things will ever be “normal” again.
Yes, joy is not the first word that comes to mind.
Yet James emphatically states, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds...” (James 1:2, ESV). Not my first or probably second or even third response to trials. Really? Joy?
But James doesn’t leave it there. He tells us why we should consider trials with pure joy: “...for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3-4).
Now we’re getting somewhere. I can get behind this! Mature (perfect), complete, lacking nothing. That’s a great place to be. I can be joyful there.
But what about the now, the in-between? James says to “consider” it all joy. To consider something is to fix your mind on it, ponder, study, meditate. Primarily it is a choice. A choice to look at the big picture, to try to see it from God’s perspective, and that is wisdom in a nutshell.
Seeing things from God’s perspective is not easy or natural. But it’s not something God expects us to do on our own. James 1:5 goes on to say, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Yes, we’ve been given a directive to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds. But God also gives us a clear reason why, a fantastic benefit to obeying, and instructions on how to do it.
Knowing us to be stubborn, weak, and rebellious humans, Jesus set the example for us by living out these instructions. Hebrews 12:2-3 tells us that we are to be "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
Jesus considered it pure joy to go to the cross for me, a choice to see the much larger picture, knowing that the trials he endured would ultimately allow me and you to be complete and lack nothing.
Choose today to consider Him, really meditate on and ponder how Christ found joy in His cross, that you may not grow weary as you choose joy in these present trials.