The Meaning of 'Count it All Joy, My Brothers' (James 1:2)

James 1:2's reminder to "count it all joy, my brothers," provides encouragement that we should give thanks for the trials of our life, for through them we strengthen and confirm our faith in God.

The Meaning of 'Count it All Joy, My Brothers' (James 1:2)

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 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 1:2-4

'Count It All Joy' Meaning in James 1:2

This popular Bible verse is a message of encouragement and spiritual wisdom that we should give thanks for the trials of our life, for through them we strengthen and confirm our faith in God.

Trials, the world's oppression, take place with God's permission. The issue is not the trials themself but our response to them. Properly received, trials reveal where our hearts are. They are food for faith, which must grow or die. The righteous reaction to trials is joy and perseverance!

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." (Matthew 5:11)

"Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name." (Acts 5:41)

Though harsh circumstances are from the evil one, to get angry at circumstances is to get angry at God, who permits them as is beneficial for our salvation.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

What Does it Mean to 'Count it All Joy'?

These outward afflictions and troubles are temptations to [Christians]. The devil endeavors by sufferings and crosses to draw men to sin and to deter them from duty, or unfit them for it; but, as our afflictions are in God’s hand, they are intended for the trial and improvement of our graces. The gold [our faith] is put into the furnace, that it may be purified... These temptations may be numerous and various: Divers temptations, as the apostle speaks. Our trials may be of many and different kinds, and therefore we have to need to put on the whole armor of God. We must be armed on every side because temptations lie on all sides. (Excerpt from Matthew Henry Commentary)

We are to "count" or accept, all trials and temptations as a joyful opportunity to deepen our faith and reliance on God for all things. Often God will allow sufferings in our lives that will humble our pride and self-reliance. We may give thanks to God when things are good and easy, but the true test of our faith arrives when hardship and tragedy befall us.

What Other Bible Verses Talk about Joy?

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

James 1:2
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

Galatians 5:22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

John 16:24
Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Psalm 16:11
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Proverbs 17:22
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

John 16:22
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Romans 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 55:12

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Psalm 126:5-6

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

Zephaniah 3:17

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

Proverbs 10:28
“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

Jeremiah 15:16

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.

Read more Bible verses about Joy!

How Can We Apply 'Count it All Joy' to Our Lives?

To apply this Bible verse in our life, we can reorient our perception of trials and suffering to the wisdom of Romans:

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." ~ Romans 5:1-5

Let us "glory in tribulation" knowing that if we are steadfast in faith it will produce perseverance and hope!

Prayers for Counting It All Joy

Father, 

Please help us find your mercy and goodness when trials and the storms of life come our way. If we are prone to grumble and complain, may the Holy Spirit convict our hearts and remind us to be thankful for your promise of eternity because of the cross. May we look for opportunities to comfort those around us who are suffering as well, so we can help hold each other up. We live in a fallen world, and although we cannot escape suffering, we know that heaven is our home and that the crown of life awaits those who stand firm in the faith, trusting that you have overcome the world and there is no reason to fear. We give you praise and thanksgiving that you will never leave us alone to walk through suffering alone. 

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Excerpted from "A Prayer for Perseverance in Suffering" by Emily Rose Massey)

Dear Lord,

Thank you that your love for me is unfailing. Thank you that when I feel like I am slipping under the weight of all the stuff, that you are there to support me with your unfailing love. Help me to cling to that truth as I am overwhelmed by all the situations that I am facing today. Help me when I feel anxiety’s grip trying to squeeze out my peace, my patience and my endurance. Console and comfort me Lord with your unfailing love so that my soul can be filled with your joy!

In Your name I pray,

Amen

(Excerpted from "A Prayer to Rejoice in God’s Unfailing Love When Life Is Stressful" By Tiffany Thibault)

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