COUNT IT ALL JOY

 BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-3 NKJV).

There are times when children of God face adversities in form of sicknesses, pain, losses, death, failures, and unpleasant situations in life. These are times when their faith is threatened. There are some people whose faith was shaken by life’s adversities and backslid because they could not reconcile their negative experiences with the goodness of God. “Why should a good God allow a bad thing to happen to his me – a child of God?” many have asked. They felt let down. They were disappointed.

The natural thing to do at such times is to cry and be sorrowful. Anyone crying in a moment of adversity would feel justified. At such times, if you don’t mind what you say while consoling such a person, you may actually be injuring him or her. He or she may feel you are not sensitive to his/her condition.

God’s Word to His children going through trying times t is, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-5 NKJV). That word, trial, means trouble, and that may accurately describe your condition now. God knows it is not joyful but He says to consider it pure joy. The New International Version renders that scripture thus:  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-5).

The apostle Paul spoke of what he had to pass through; they were not palatable but he had a positive attitude toward his own troubles. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV).

The Message Bible translation says, “We have been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized but God hasn’t left our side, we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us – trial and torture, mockery and murder, what Jesus did among them, he does to us- he lives” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

Paul was perplexed by the situation; he was not sure what to do. That was the great man of God, the apostle Paul. Have you been in such a condition before when you don’t know what to do? Despite all this, Paul added, in verse 16, Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (NIV).

Child of God, will you lose heart? Will you quit because of the problems of life? Will you allow your trouble to separate you from the love of God? Romans 8:35 asks “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”(NLT).

Paul, rather than being discouraged, comforted the Ephesians. “I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory” (Ephesians 3:13 NIV). Paul was not discouraged because of his sufferings; he was encouraging others. He turned the prison to his study. He maximized his time, reading, and writing.

Will you deny Jesus because of the troubles you are going through? Don’t throw in the towel; don’t give up. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV). Even if you don’t understand what is happening or why, don’t give up. Trust the LORD. He understands everything.

Let me share with you some reasons you should count it all joy as the Word of God commands us.

1. Because God understands. There is nothing that happens to you that is hidden from God; nothing takes Him by surprise. All things are laid bare before Him. While the children of Israel were going through all the afflictions and sufferings in the hand of the Egyptians, God saw all they were going through. He heard their cry but it was as if He didn’t hear or see them until He decided to come down to deliver them. “Then the LORD told him, ‘I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them’ ” (Exodus 3:7-9 NLT). God understands all you are going through. He is aware of everything. He will come down to rescue you.

2. Because God has absolute and ultimate power over whatever happens to you. He is not the author of everything that happens to you but He is LORD over all. He will work all things together for your good. He will give you much more tomorrow than you lost yesterday. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV). I love the way the Amplified Bible puts it. “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labour] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose” (Romans 8:28 Amplified Bible). The Message Bible says, “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives for God is worked into something good.”

Know this, as His child, God is working every detail of your life into something good for you. The devil may have designed it to harm or destroy you, but God will take control of his plan and work it for your good and His glory. You might have been expecting the LORD’s deliverance for quite some time, and it looks as if God has forgotten you. No, God is not a late-comer. He will surely deliver you. But you must realize that God is not following your timetable. So don’t say He is late. Late by your time or by His time?

God will honour His Word, so you can depend on Him. He will not fail. But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (Habakkuk 2:3 The Living Bible). Did you see that? Slowly, steadily and surely God’s promises shall be fulfilled in your life.

Don’t lose hope; this is not your end whatever the loss may be. People might have rejected and abandoned you, thinking you are down and out, but, child of God, this is not your end. Your obscurity will soon give way to prominence. You will come out of it; your voice will be heard yet again. Those who thought you are finished and abandoned you will still come back to you when your season changes. It will happen very soon in Jesus’ name.

3. Because God has a purpose for your life and trouble will work to your advantage. You’re not an accident of history. There is foreknowledge of you – predestination. God has not changed His mind about you. He has predestined you, called you, justified you, and will glorify you. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30 NIV). Ultimately, trouble will work to your advantage, not against you.

4. Because every problem has a lifespan. Your problem will soon be over and there will be a new dawn. In Mark 4:39, the storm was raging but it stopped when Jesus said, “Peace be still.” The raging storm in your life will stop in Jesus’ name. You will experience peace in the mighty name of Jesus. God has not asked you to seek Him in vain; He will reward you (Isaiah 45:19). He will cause your trouble or problem to expire.

Mordecai saw the end of Haman (Esther 7:9-10). The Israelites saw the end of the Egyptians who were pursuing them (Exodus 14:27-31). You will see the end of that problem; it will not see your end in Jesus’ name.

5. Because God is bigger than your problem. God is bigger than your trouble. He is interested in you and ready to show His power on your behalf. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9a NKJV).

King Hezekiah of Judah, encouraging his people, when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, wanted to make war against Jerusalem, said, “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8 NKJV).

The king of Syria sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround Dothan, the city where Elisha was, and arrest him. His servant was afraid, but Elisha told him not to be afraid, assuring him that there were more on their side than on theirs (2 Kings 6:16). Elisha’s God was bigger than the king of Syria! Your God is bigger than any problem you face.

6. Because your present adversity is not your end. There is resurrection after the crucifixion! God will do a new thing for you and in your life. “For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!” (Isaiah 43:19 NLT). Only God can do such a thing.

To achieve that, sometimes, He allows the old to die for the new to emerge! He may allow Joseph to be put in prison before he will take him to the palace to become the second-in-command. He will allow crucifixion before there will be a resurrection. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24 NIV). Your present negative condition is not your end.

7. Because there is hope in your future. Once you’re alive, there is hope. It won’t end like this for you. You may be down but with Jesus on your side, you are not out yet. Those who have heard of your fall will hear again of your rise. For the LORD will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more” (Jeremiah 31:11-12 NIV). Verse 16a says, “Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears” (NKJV). Verse 17a assures: “There is hope in your future, says the LORD” (NKJV).

This is not your end; something good will still come out of your life; be hopeful. “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lamentation 3:22-24 NKJV).

When people don’t have hope any longer, suicide becomes attractive to them. If you commit suicide, that means you’ve chosen not to live to see the new things God wants to do for you. Choose to live; don’t choose to die.

8. Because the glory of the latter house shall surpass the former. Not only will something good come out of your life, something better is awaiting you. The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty” (Haggai 2:9 NIV). What God will give you will be superior to what you lost.

9. Because of the limitation of the devil. The devil is not omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. He may lay a foundation in your life but he doesn’t determine what will be built on it. In Job 1:7, he was going to and fro, that is roaming about. The devil can’t be everywhere at the same time as God neither is he all-knowing like God. The wisdom of God will defeat the wiles of the devil for you any day. The LORD will bring back your captivity like a dream; it will appear so unreal. When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’ The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:1-3 NIV).

Also, Psalm 14:7 speaks of the LORD’s restoration of the fortunes of his people. The LORD will restore your fortunes, and you will rejoice once more.  A great joy is waiting for you!

10. Because the joy of the LORD is your strength, and you need that strength to survive and outlast the trouble. Joy is an essential component of your survival kit. Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the LORD is your strength. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells you to rejoice evermore. That was what the apostles did. Paul said he was “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:10 NKJV). He did not live a self-centered life, mourning over his losses. He served the LORD joyfully.

11. Because testimonies will come out of your present challenges. The LORD shall turn your situation around. Hallelujah!  Men who have neglected and rejected you will crowd around you to rejoice with you when the LORD restores your captivity.  It will come in Jesus’ name. You’ll sing for joy and men will join you to praise your God. If you don’t know how to dance, go and start learning it, you’ll dance and dance this year because your cup will run over. Get ready for it. “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame” (Joel 2:25-27 NKJV).

Psalm 23:5 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over” (NKJV). That is overflowing blessings! God will fill your cup to overflowing. Your negative experience will lead to increase and divine enlargement in Jesus’ name.

12. Because in all things, God expects you to give thanks to Him.1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. In other words, no matter what happens, give thanks to God because that’s His will for you as a believer in Christ Jesus.

Child of God, don’t lose hope. Your frequent sighing will soon turn to joyful singing. Count it all joy! It is not what you went through that is important, but the final outcome. The final outcome will be in your favour in Jesus’ name. Nothing is final until God has spoken! God’s verdict is in your favour! Glory, Hallelujah! Your night is about to end; your morning is near – joy is coming in the morning for you. I feel like praying this prayer with you:

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I pray for all who are in pain at the moment, all who have suffered losses, all who are in tears, all who are weeping within them. I ask, LORD, that you will intervene in their situations and give them a divine turn around. I pray that you will wipe away their tears and you will give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Grant them deliverance and victory. Cause them to sing for joy very soon. Grant them testimonies to share not long from now over their present situations in Jesus’ name.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.

T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947
Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
cedarministryng@gmail.com
Website: www.cedarministry.org