“Ugh! One more thing! The car keeps breaking down, the washer won’t wash, the school thing is driving me nuts, and all this turmoil in cities scares me. It’s horrible! On top of that, I keep wanting to eat all the chocolate in the world when I know I only need a bite. I don’t know what I’m going to do!”
Ever said things like that before when the things kept stacking up? When you feel like everything is going wrong? Me, too.
James tells us to consider all those things as opportunities for great joy. The Amplified Bible translates the original language this way: “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.”
Well, what’s joyful about having a school year so messed up that no one seems to know what’s happening? What’s joyful about having to decide between clean clothes and a car to get us where we need to be? Where’s the joy in that?
God, through James, was not saying those things ARE joyful. He said to count them, consider them as such, not because they ARE, but because they are growing us.
See, everything that happens in our lives is an opportunity to honor and glorify God. It’s always easier to see things in relation to our favorite person, us, but if we’ll open our view a bit, we’ll see that somehow God will get glory through our situations.
Every moment, every experience, every trial, every temptation we have grows us in our faith walk.
THAT is what we can call joyful.
Almost seven years ago my husband had a near-fatal brain aneurysm. It didn’t feel joyful as I prayed through the night, not knowing if I’d ever see him alive again. Not at all. Yet I prayed. I believed. I remembered and spoke scripture. And now, with that experience in my repertoire, I can share compassion, I can exhibit patience, I can proclaim the goodness of God, I can help others see Him. THAT is pure joy.
Believer, I challenge you today to look at your circumstances right now and choose to see opportunities for joy. Tell God you don’t feel particularly joyful in this moment, but you’re considering this lesson in endurance and patience as an opportunity to be joyful. Even that temptation to have that extra dessert, tell the ‘little white’ lie, take those pens from the office, or share that juicy tidbit with your friend. All the trials produce a more mature-in-faith you.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.