As a musician, I hear rhythm everywhere I go. Rhythm is found as I practice songs for Sunday services on my guitar, the oscillating sound of the blinker in my car when I turn left or right, the song of the birds returning to sing in spring time, and even in the crashing of waves against the rocks along the North Shore.
Rhythm extends far beyond those we preserve with our ears. Each of us develops rhythms in our personal lives as we spend time with Jesus, our family, friends, and coworkers. There are ways in which we like our morning coffee brewed, the routine in which we eat our food, the roads we drive to on our work, or the way we move our bodies to build strength. We like the habit, the repetition, the consistency, and the meditative moments these daily rhythms provide and there is nothing more frustrating than when these rhythms are disrupted.
Full transparency, I am a creature of habit. I relish in a perfectly ordered google calendar, setting up the “delay brew” feature for the next morning on my little coffee maker, and following my bedtime routine at night to ensure a good night’s sleep. Sometimes it takes more time to get into a particular rhythm than others, working out daily for example. However, there is an immense amount of personal satisfaction when rhythms come together in perfect unity… Until something falls out of beat.
In the beginning of his letter James writes these pivotal words, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4, ESV).
Take a moment to read this again…
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds”
When I encounter situations that cause disruption of my daily rhythms, joy is not what I typically count on. My sinful nature seeks vindication for the interruption and the release found in focusing on negative emotions to meet my perceived need for control amidst dysregulation.
God in his grace calms my heart with these words. Notice how James uses “when” not “if” in regards to facing trials. This word shifts my focus every evening as I fall asleep listening to the book of James, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials…”
Why? There is a rhythm. The steady beat of God’s faithfulness in every season, as sure as the rising and setting of the sun. Even as I write this, there is new awareness of the word “count” in this passage in the context of rhythm. I count beats per measure every Sunday as I lead worship. Sometimes it’s as simple as counting, one… two… three…four. Over and over again. What a beautiful example, hidden within the confines of music, that causes me to turn my attention to Jesus when I can hear chaos amidst trials, as I seek to develop steadfastness in my faith.
Beat by beat. Rhythm by rhythm.
How will you respond to God the next time you face trials? What will you be counting on?