Count It All Joy
Updated: May 18, 2022
Dr. Stephen Phinney
My mentor, Dr. David Jeremiah, was led by the Lord to write a book titled “Count It All Joy.” It stopped me in my path and made me think.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Now, think about it. How can Biblical James encourage others to be joyful when he was suffering horrid persecution and distress? Worse yet, all the disciples suffered tremendous persecution, yet each proclaimed this message to new believers.
I received a two-page letter from an anonymous sender – packed with threats of my life, our ministry, and family. The letter was populated with lies he planned to spread throughout the community. This man lives in the community we live. These threats were of such magnitude that it gained the attention of the FBI. While I appreciated the government stepping in to help, I asked them NOT to let me know the outcome of their investigative results and possible prosecution. Within a short period, our mainframe computer system was hacked many times. They installed a reverse tracking system on our computers to catch the bandit in action. We were notified that they indeed found him and his dark web partner.
The guts of this matter set off multiple years of “fighting” rumors & lies that quickly spread throughout the community. Many damaging results affect us to this day. While the matter is challenging enough, the worst of this attack set in motion the Lord asking me to consider it all Joy. Are you serious, Lord? I realized I needed Divine Wisdom, which compelled me to ask for it.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)
All authentic believers face circumstances that wage war with our Joy in the Lord. Honestly, I believe this is a leading torture technique used by Satan’s demons. If our strength is found in the Joy of the Lord, when Joy is absent, so is our strength.
People tend to throw the word “joy” around like a kind of “fast fix” to our dark moments. We muster up a little self-manufactured joy that lasts until the next dark hour or the next time we look into the mirror. I attempted to use this falsified version of joy many times. It remains a temptation to this day.
What is fake joy? How can we tell the difference between fake and real Joy? How is it possible to live a persecuted life and remain steadfast in our Joy in the Lord?
These are all great questions!
No real Christian should be ashamed to say that we suffer a lack of Joy in the Lord. It is the starting place of receiving it. Being an indwelt Christian comes with certain “rights” that Christ has being the Son of God. Since the masses of the Christian world are clueless about the “how” to experience Joy amid circumstances, they fake it until they make it.
Anything that is self-manufactured comes from self-life. Self-life is the leftovers from our Adamic nature that remain in our minds, the condition we were born. When the believer is NOT walking in and after the Spirit from within, we default to the aftereffects of our Adamic nature. Yes, once indwelt, the Adamic nature is crucified with Christ. However, the aftereffects are not. It is impossible to crucify memories. It is in this single fact that Satan finds his playground. The blunt reality is it works most of the time.
Why does God leave our memories in place of Adamic nature?
This is beyond a great question. I, too, have asked the Lord this many times. Now, if I was God, God forbid, I would have whipped the hard drive of the Old Nature upon salvation. Logically, it makes perfect sense. In my mind, this would be the perfect “fix” to granting Satan access to our weaknesses. Although, this was NOT the Lord’s plan.
Fake Joy produces fake Christians. Ouch! That sounds harsh. Well, it is true. Believers of self-manufactured joy look something like this. Each put on a smile when, in reality, they are battling hardship or “depression.” On the inside, they are committing a sin of disbelief in trusting the Lord in all circumstances. They are wearing a mask that LOOKS like a victorious Christian on the outside. They fear being “real” with people they love OR distrust. The result is they manufacture fake joy to protect themselves from the rejection of others. This forms a habit of empowering themselves with people, places, and things that produce momentary joy in due time. A joy that fades shortly after they look into the mirror.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
The problem? Believers who produce fake joy are stuck living off of the milk of the Gospel. In other words, they continue to function as a child, refusing to become men and women in Christ. In this, they tend to refute what Paul admonished us to do.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11)