Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3.
Years ago, I experienced a disconcerting string of “losses” in the courtroom. As a (now former) Plaintiff’s personal injury trial lawyer, the opportunity to have a jury decide one of my clients’ cases was both rare and greatly anticipated. I liked being in the arena and felt sufficiently skilled for the task. Yet, during a string of several years, favorable verdicts eluded me. Loss. Loss. Lousy verdict (i.e. loss). Loss. Moderate verdict (i.e. tasted like a loss). Loss.
As would any sensible trial lawyer, I forensically dissected these trial experiences, aiming to learn from mistakes and discover reasons for the losses, so future clients would not have to suffer for any failings on my part. While I certainly gained insights to fine tune my craft, I found no obvious explanations for the bad verdicts.
Once I looked beyond my own personal frustration and disappointment, I saw a greater question being begged: Was I outside of God’s will, in what I was doing or how I was doing it? Perhaps these trial losses were not the result of tactical failures or poor lawyering, but rather the consequence of my straying from the place God wanted me to occupy. Worse still, perhaps my faith failures were depriving my clients of rightful recovery.
This profound question warranted more than a cursory answer. I turned to the best source for life guidance, to see if scripture would enlighten me. It did. Specifically, I found four “J”s in the Bible – Jonah, Job, Joseph, and Joshua – whose life stories illustrated scenarios explaining life challenges we may encounter.
Your “trials” may not be literal courtroom experiences as were mine. But if you find yourself in an unpleasant, uncomfortable, and frustrating circumstance, wondering how and why, please read on. The four “J”s should give you some helpful perspectives to better assess your current situation and enable you to consider your various trials “a great joy.”