Saturday, June 19, 2010

When you fall into various trials ... (Jam. 1:2-4)

I have fallen into various trials over the past month:
  • Three weeks ago my wife's post-op pain got out of control and she was hospitalized for 2 days..
  • Five days later all five members of my immediate family, myself included, plus my father-in-law, got food poisoning and we were vomiting in turns and simultaneously over a period of 12 hours.
  • Four days later my wife reacts horribly to a medicine prescribed by her gynecologist--burning in the chest, then overwhelming nausea, then overwhelming irrational fear, then return to normal, to be repeated every 30-40 minutes for the next 24-36 hours.
  • Another four days and another medicine is prescribed to which she reacts even more violently and that puts her in the hospital for three days. (She does not tolerate SSRI or SNRI meds!)
The results of all the above plus the stress of the surgery and a long list of other stressors preceding the surgery: her adrenal glands appear to have gone haywire, messing with her ability to sleep, putting her out of commission for a while as she attempts to rest enough to recover. That placed her care and the care of our three boys on my plate: all summer projects out the window!

I think that qualifies for James' "various trials." And regarding all such trials he commands, "Count it all joy!"

James' command raises a host of questions: What is joy? What is "all joy?" What does it mean to "count" it all joy? Why should we count falling into various trials all joy? And how do you do that?

In this and the (hopefully) following posts I'm going to try to answer these questions. But a little background first. I first worked on this passage back in 1992 for second year Greek exegesis project. I've preached this passage probably more than I've preached any other passage in Scripture. And, since 2002 I've been requiring my Advanced Homiletics students to preach this passage. So I've heard it preached, both well and poorly, quite a bit!

All that to say, I've been mulling this one over for a long time. As the Lord takes me through deeper waters, I have found this passage to be unshakable bedrock. My appreciation for its profundity only grows as I face more difficult trials.


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