Count It All Joy

It's the last post of the year. And I should probably be writing about the lessons I learnt in the last year. Or even better I should be celebrating my achievements over the last 12 months. Or even maybe considering my hopes for the new year ahead of me. I don't know, but it's about that time of the year for something motivational. The issue is that I sat down with the intention to write about a completely different topic.

When I first started this blog, I'd wait for inspiration to strike, and in that moment I'd open up my laptop and would simply start writing about whatever was on my mind. As much as I loved that process, I realised that it doesn't really allow for consistency because if inspiration didn't strike then nothing would get written, so I made a decision. I decided to change my process. It's not a perfect process. In fact let me not tell a lie, it's not a great process but its what I currently do. As is usual, I still wait for inspiration to strike and in that moment I jot down a few blog post ideas. I don't write the full posts, but at least I have the ideas to return to when I need to start writing. It's a process that works to an extent, though as I write this I'm realising it has several flaws and I should probably fix those issues. #2022goals?

Anyways, I said all that to say that today I'm meant to be talking about my experience with the words in James 1: 2 where we are told to "count it all joy" when we fall into various trials and temptations. Inspiration struck a while back and I decided that this was the month that I'd be talking about this. Do you want to know why? Let me tell you. Are you ready? Okay here we go. The reason I chose this month is because. Yep, it's simply because. There's no rhyme or reason. I already told you that my process needed work, so now I have a decision to make. Do I continue with my initial plan and write about what "count it all joy" means to me? Or do I change lanes and talk about something relating to the end of the year? Or do I even have to choose a topic? Maybe this is one of those 2 lane roads, that merges into 1 lane. Also I'm not sure where the driving analogy came from, but let's see how it goes.

I'll start with "count it all joy". The first time I came across this scripture in James 1: 2 was one of the most difficult seasons of my life. I was trying to deal with the loss of a loved one. And I still remember, I was in my childhood bedroom sat on the floor. I was either attempting to pray or maybe even praying. Some days were easier than others. In front of me, was a study bible that my mum had gifted me years ago and as I read it. I came across James 1: 2 which says "count it all joy when you fall into various trials" and I still can't explain what happened in that moment.

If someone knew that I was mourning walked up to me and said "count it all joy", I'm pretty sure that I would have wanted to smack them in the face. Like I know Christianese and all that, but come on! Here I am in pain. Just hurting so bad that I can't feel, even though all I'm doing is feeling and your advise is for me to "count it all joy". My mouth might say "thank you" or even "amen", but my mind would probably go full Nigerian with the "if I should slap in one hot slap". You know how it goes. Anyways, I say that to say "count it all joy" was not what I was trying to hear at that time. But here I was sitting before God and trying to find something to get me through the day and then there was this scripture "count it all joy."

And here's the miraculous part, in that moment I felt such joy. And I don't mean laughing joy or dancing joy or I'm in a good mood joy. I just mean joy. I was still there, sat on the floor, my bible in front of me and mourning. And right next to the pain and the numbness of my new reality was a joy that wasn't from me. It wasn’t even from within. It was from the Holy Spirit. It was an answer to my prayer in that moment. It was a reminder that God would walk with me through this season and would give me whatever I needed as I needed it.

Now I'm not trying to say that this feeling of joy stayed constant with me throughout my mourning season. To be honest, I'm not sure if mourning ever truly ends. I don't know how you stop missing someone that you thought would always be there, but that's a different conversation. My point is that when you're in that place, you're fighting to keep your head up above water. Those of you that have lost someone might have been told to take things day by day. For me I could only take it hour by hour, sometimes even minute my minute. All I knew was that I had to get through the minute I was in, and when the next minute came I'd get through it as long as I kept moving. And that evening as I prayed, I needed something to keep me moving into the next day and that's what I got when God gave me joy. And in the days, months and years that has followed God has continued to show up in different ways to keep me moving and sometimes even living.

I still think about that moment and what I learnt. I think for me the biggest lesson I learnt was to "count it all joy". I now know that this doesn't mean that I should rejoice about my trials, but simply that I should rejoice in the fact that the trials that I face are doing a work in me. And if I endure through the trials and temptations by the grace of God, I will receive the "crown of life" (James 1: 12).

I also learnt that joy is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a very practical way. So like love, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control, joy also comes from the Lord. And if we seek the Spirit, dwell in His presence and let His Spirit dwell in us, even when our circumstances don't call for it, we will bear forth the fruit of His Spirit.

So whatever you may be facing right now, I encourage you to "count it all joy". And by that I encourage to feel whatever you need to feel, process whatever you need to process, and to do the work that needs to be done. And as you do all that, rest in God's Spirit and ask Him to help you count it all joy because the testing of your faith produces patience and patience will do the work of completely developing your faith, so you lack in nothing.

And this is where the lanes converge. As I wrap up this year, I've been very mindful of things I didn't accomplish. Don't get it twisted, it's been a wonderful year. I've grown in so many ways, I've achieved so much and I am genuinely both proud of the work I've done and grateful to God for making it happen. It's been good. But the truth is that I had planned to do so much more and grow in myself even further and I didn't. And right now, instead of celebrating all the good, I find myself thinking about all the things I didn't do. I didn't do all the things. In work, with YouTube, on this blog, I didn't do it all. Even in my prayer life and bible study, I didn't do as much as I should have and in rest especially in the second half of the year, I definitely didn't do it.

So before I embark on the new year, and as I consider the last year, I think it's important that I switch my mindset and ask myself, how do I look back on the changes in the last year and count it all joy?

Well first of all, I choose to. I choose to celebrate all the good. And as I consider all the things that I didn't do, I also choose to celebrate those. I choose to learn from them, I choose to consider the difference between what I'm supposed to do as opposed to what I plan to do. And most of all, I choose to turn to God and pray that I'll bear forth the fruit of the Spirit (joy included).

As I wrap this up, I'd encourage you to take some time to read or listen to the book of James. And I pray for you as I pray for myself, that you will bear forth fruit that will last.

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you. This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.
John 15: 16‭ -‬ 17 (NIV)

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