In James 1:2, we are told to “count it all joy” when we experience suffering because of its positive spiritual benefits.
So, then, are we not at all to feel sad/angry/bad/depressed/any negative emotion whatever when we suffer? Why or why not? After all, James does say here that we are to count it all joy, not just partially or a little joyous, but, apparently, completely joyous.
I mean, I can see that there is obviously a positive side to suffering and I am well and good with that, as, of course, it produces positive spiritual benefit, but the actual suffering itself can still very natural produce negative emotions/a negative reaction in a person which I always thought was perfectly natural and acceptable. Is it? Should it be?
I can immediately think of at least 2 examples of people in the Scriptures being sad at suffering. I am thinking (possibly?) of Jesus mourning as His friends mourned over the death of Lazaurs. I can think of Him lamenting over His People’s refusal to come under His tender care. I can think of Paul mourning over even the potential loss of one of his friends and fellow-workers in the Gospel. Paul also expressed a sad/discontented(?) longing to see his churches when he was sometimes prevented from coming to them. And, I am sure thaere are many more examples that others could come up with that I have not mentioned here.
So, what is the deal here? Why does there seem to be this contradiction?
Is perhaps Paul “exaggerating” or “hyperbolizing” here to make a point? Maybe he means that we should count it “much” joy when we suffer because of the positive effects? Or, maybe he is contrasting our usual attitudes toward suffering very sharply, again, in terms of hyperbole, to indicate that our attitude can often be wrong in this, only seeing the immediate suffering/doom-and-gloom?
Indeed, if God expected us not at all to feel negative emotions at suffering, surely He wouldn’t have told us that it was a sin to cause other people to suffer? After all, if we tried it and if ideally the other person xperienced no ill emotional effects from it, our action would indeed be moot.
If a person dies, should we rejoice in it since it can strengthen us spiritually? Should we not mourn at all? If we are ill or disabled, should we not leap for joy at every opportunity since it will only make us stronger?