2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Around three weeks ago I began a new job. So far I have been somewhat successful, but one of the main things asked in the interview has stuck with me these last few weeks, “how well do you do with rejection?” From the moment I enter the office till the final minutes before I go home I am on the phone calling freight carriers. All over the country I am asking them their truck availability in the hopes that one of them will have a truck available to pick up and deliver my particular load.
After a couple days on the phones the question began to play over and over in the back of my mind, “how well do you handle rejection?” Because a huge part of what I do includes hearing “no, nothing available” all day long—assuming they don’t just hang up, one must be ready to answer this question. Because I have had a “sales” type job in the past that was exclusively on the phone I answered it as I always do these type of questions, “very well, just can’t let it get to you”—essentially I lied. It sounds foolish, and it probably is, but even though these total strangers might have something for me the next day, hearing them say “no” is sometimes hard to bear. It might be the quantity at which I hear it each day rather than the actual answer itself.
The book of James begins with James addressing the 12 tribes that have become “dispersed abroad.” So it is important to not assume that he is speaking to telemarketers. He is also addressing some pretty intense trials that the brethren are enduring due to their faith, rather than being “rejected” at work. But here is one way it applies to us in America —at least how I find one application in my daily life.
I consider work in this life a trial in itself—due to the fall. Don’t hear me wrong, I love working. I love being useful. And if I could hear “yes” all day long I would be thrilled, but the reality is that we live in a fallen, dysfunctional world. And I consider the hardship of bearing all those “nos” day in and day out just so that I can help provide for my son and wife a “various trial.”
Here comes the neat part though. This job—a blessing. The money in the bank—a blessing. The people I converse with on a daily basis and have the opportunity to possibly share the gospel with—a blessing. Getting out of the house and away from other temptations—a blessing. Et cetera. It is a blessing and I count it all joy. Not only are there those who will not work, but there are also those who cannot work and I must remind myself of this.
I am also proving to myself and to those around me the faithfulness of God. In my testimony to the world and to myself I am revealing where my joy ultimately comes from, the life and work of Jesus Christ. I am able to not only “grin and bear it” for the sake of what it provides, but I can be thankful that it provides another opportunity to grow, learn, and ultimately conform more and more to the image of Christ.
Ultimately, I am seeing the “lacking in nothing” playing out in this aspect of my life. In the same way God feeds the sparrows, I am reminded more and more that regardless of how my deliverances come in this life, if at all sometimes, my destination is sealed and my journey safeguarded by God—which gives me the utmost joy.
So I ask you, what trial are you facing that you can count all joy? Are you being specifically persecuted for your faith? How do you live out this joy in such a way that you are reminded this testing of your faith is producing steadfastness?
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