How are we to regard trials as pure joy? Only by sufficient motivation.
In Moses' case it was because of the reward he believed would be his later (See Hebrews 11:24-26). It was even what motivated Jesus. Imagine that! It was the joy that lay ahead that kept Him going (Hebrews 12:2). He was not enjoying the cross, not for a second. But it was because of the great joy that was going to His that He was able to endure the cross. He considered it pure joy because pure joy was coming. And it came!
James tells us, therefore, that trials are a good thing—if we have a positive attitude toward them when they come. He certainly doesn't say we will enjoy them. Instead, we endure them. But we regard the thought of them as pure joy because of what these trials can do for us. They are, says Peter, more precious than gold (1 Pet. 1:7).
The greater the suffering, the greater the anointing. If it is anointing you want, then expect suffering. If it is a great anointing you want, anticipate great suffering at some stage. The anointing is the power of the Holy Spirit to make us do what we do with ease and without fatigue.
The main reason for burnout and fatigue is almost certainly because someone has gone beyond his anointing; he went outside it rather than functioning within it. It was because he could not accept the limits of his ability. None of us can do everything, but to the person who is not content with the anointing or gift that he or she has, there will be trouble ahead.
It is humbling to accept our limits, but there is considerable joy and peace in doing so, not to mention an increase of anointing. We can pray for a greater anointing—namely, an ability to do what we previously could not do in our own strength—but until that anointing has come, we must accept the limits of our faith and ability.
I myself would prefer a greater anointing than anything. It is literally what I want most in the entire world. In a word: more of God. This way, I can achieve all He wants of me. He never promotes us to the level of our incompetence. As long as we are content with the calling He has chosen for us, we will live and move at the level He has seen fit to give us.
This is partly what is meant when the psalmist said, "He chose our inheritance for us" (Ps. 47:4). It can be a testing in itself when we come to terms with His determination of what talent He has decided to give us. We may envy another's anointing. It is the way Peter felt when told how he would die, and all he could apparently think of is how John would die. Jesus replied, in so many words, "That's none of your business—just follow Me and quit looking over your shoulder." (See John 21:18-23).
A.W. Tozer used to say that we could have as much of God as we want. When I first came across this comment, I disagreed. But now I know what he meant. We do not prove how much we want of God merely by the intense desire at the moment. We prove it by how we react to circumstances in life, and the opportunities given to us to do such things dignify the trials He hands us on our silver platter.
When we are content with the anointing God chose for us, we do what we are called to do without fatigue. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13). When I become mentally and emotionally fatigued in what I am doing, it is a fairly strong hint that I have chosen to move outside my anointing and what God specifically asked me to do. As long as I do what He called me to do and no more, I will not be edging toward burnout.
And yet I would like to have more anointing than I have! This is a legitimate desire because Paul told us to desire earnestly the greater gifts (1 Cor. 12:31). God will answer this request so long as it is sought with His glory in mind; He will answer the request if it is His will (1 John 5:14), God will consequently supply the need for this by granting the necessary anointing required for what I am called to do.
If, then, it is a greater anointing I truly want, and I wake up with one big enormous trial before me, I should grasp it with both hands! I must consider this pure joy! This is because the trial is a fairly strong hint from the Lord Jesus that I am going to receive the anointing for which I long. He knows what I want more than anything, so if He sends a trial or testing my way, then I have every reason to believe that the anointing I long for is coming—if I dignify the trial at hand.
James sees a time ahead for the person who dignifies the trial that will bring indescribable peace, the highest level of anointing, the soul uncluttered by greed, and a heart filled with the very presence of God. It is pure joy.
In other words, if you consider a trial to be pure joy, it will lead you to pure joy. Count it pure joy, call it pure joy, regard the trial as pure joy, and one day you will experience pure joy for yourself. I promise it!
Adapted from Pure Joy by R. T. Kendall, copyright 2015, published by Charisma House. The Christian faith promises inexpressible and glorious joy. This book will show you the difference between trials and temptations and how trials can lead you to joy. It will help you experience the four levels of joy and see how you can receive God's gift of gladness in every trial. To order your copy click here.
Prayer Power for the Week of February 14, 2016
Although you can't avoid trials in this life, determine this week to ask the Lord to help you "dignify the trial" when it comes and count it as "pure joy." Bring your thoughts and feelings into agreement with the Word of God and cry out for His grace (enabling power) to help you to do all things, even give thanks in the midst of your most challenging circumstances. Ask the Lord to show you ways in which you can meet needs, share love and be a blessing to others who are hurting and suffering loss. Continue to pray for the nation and worldwide revival (1 Thess. 5:18).