As a new bride I quickly learned to be a bookkeeper when my husband, Jim, left for six months to go to army boot camp. During his absence I devised a system that was precise, if not sophisticated. I placed a shoebox on the counter, and put faithfully into it each and every bill and receipt each and every day.
Believe it or not, there’s only one fundamental rule to follow for bookkeeping and accounting, and sticking to it makes bookkeeping a meticulous and precise —but easy—discipline. The rule is that every amount of money is either a debit or a credit. It is either an expense or income. There is not other option.
I regularly reached into the shoebox, pulled out one piece of paper, and made a decision about which category it belonged to on my simple ledger page. I had to ask of each amount, each receipt, each payment: “Are you a debit or a credit?” If money went out, it was a debit and put in the debit column. If money came in, it was a credit and put in the credit column.
The Lord actually challenges us with a similar process when He says in James 1:2, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Counting (considering, reckoning, accounting, evaluating, or chalking-up) trials as joy is truly a discipline. You (and I) have to do the bookkeeping, so to speak, and make a very conscious decision about each of your troubles. You have to decide whether to count each individual difficulty as joy, or to count it as sorrow. These are the only two options available for your spiritual bookkeeping.
As you hold each problem up before God for His clerical assistance, you may ﬁnd yourself saying to Him, “Lord, this trial doesn’t look fair. It doesn’t look like joy, and it certainly doesn’t feel like joy. I can’t imagine how in the world this thing is ever going to turn out to be joy. But based on Your divine rules for bookkeeping, I will count this trial as joy.”
Then you obediently take pen in hand and decisively, in a willful act, mark your trial in the “joy” column. That’s how the decision is made to count your trial as joy, as a credit, as an asset, as income… as a positive! Counting is done not by sight, but by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). By faith and in obedience we choose to count any and every trial as joy. Why? Because that’s what God says we must do to ﬁnd His path through our trials.
Where does today ﬁnd you? In what state of mind or spirit do you reside? Are you suffering from sorrow, discouragement, fear, anxiety, worry, loneliness, or despair? Many believers (and perhaps even you) are in a time of trial.
You can take a giant, positive step forward by realizing the truth that trials are a fact of life, and that joy is a choice not a feeling. Follow God’s advice through James and “count it all joy.” Make the right choice of attitude—the one God prescribes. Bow your knee, your heart, and your emotions before God Almighty and express your heart attitude: “God, I don’t like this, but You say I am to count this trouble as joy. Therefore, by Your grace, I am choosing to do so.”
A Quote Worth Remembering:
“Life need not be easy to be joyful. Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.”
William Vander Hoven
Elizabeth George’s book Finding God’s Path Through Your Trials acknowledges the hard times you face and presents steps for experiencing hope, joy, and meaning in your journey.