“Consider it pure joy whenever your face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3
I’m not sure about you but when I first look at this verse, I don’t like it. I find myself asking the question. “God, do you really mean that you want me to count my trials as ‘pure joy’? Am I missing something? Are you missing something?”
He says, “Yes, that’s exactly what I am telling you to do. You’re the one missing the point. I understand pain and trials more than anyone. I created you in my image. I feel every ounce of your pain from whatever trial you may be facing. I really get it. The problem is you don’t”
I argue, “How can that be? I mean the past two years have been some of the hardest in my life and you tell me to consider or think about or ponder these things as pure, unfiltered, untainted joy. Ok! I’m not buying what you’re selling.”
“You’re not buying what I’m selling because you’re refusing to see the whole picture. You’re refusing to see the whole picture because you’re only looking at the circumstances and your feelings regarding those trials. What you fail to realize is what I can do in your heart when you don’t base everything on feelings. Feelings are temporary. They come and go. Happiness is a feeling based on emotions. Like the moon, emotions can wax and wane. What I want to give you is joy. Joy is not merely a feeling based on emotions. Joy resonates the soul. Joy is the light from within the soul that can illuminate the face even in the darkest of days. Joy is what makes the heart content and allows faith to rise.” He gently replies.
Again I question, “So, in order for my faith to increase and be stretched, I need trials? In these trials you teach me. I may not always like the trial but I can have “pure joy” because it’s for my good. Honestly, I’m still not wholly convinced. I mean I like having a pity party every now and again. I like sympathy from time to time.”
“I know. Remember I am the God who sees and know all about it. I know everything. The problem with sympathy and pity parties is they take the focus off me and place all the focus back on you and your emotions. It’s precisely what I want to remove from you. I want to give you my joy.”
“Ok. I will trust you. I can’t promise that I will always consider my trials ‘pure joy’ but I will try. I will teach others when I can and I am sure there will be times when you will have to send someone to remind me.”
Maybe you don’t have to reason through scripture the way I do. I wish I could simply take God at His word. I can’t. It’s not my nature. But it’s through reasoning it out that I am able to have a better understanding of what it says and what I need to learn. I’ll admit, I’m not always a fan of these lessons. They are hard and sometimes long; but if you’ve ever been around someone who’s been through the wringer with trials and they have a countenance that glows, you know they’ve got that unspeakable joy deep, deep down in their hearts. It takes trials to bring about such joy. The cost is great but the reward of joy and peace is greater still.