Trials, Consider Them Joy

Lord, how is it possible?”
Our ladies Bible study began a study of the book of James. Before we had gotten very far in our studies we found ourselves asking this very question. After all, we had just gone through a very difficult weekend. Not only had we attended a memorial service for Van Wisdom, but later we learned that our pastor would be stepping down as the leader of our church.
The following Monday morning our Bible study met and read this verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2
After discussing the difficult weekend, many ladies added their own stories of personal trials. We agreed that yes, we all faced trials of many kinds. The question was not WHY we face trials, but how do you have pure joy in those trials? We had a brief discussion about happiness vs. joy, and many questions were raised. Are happiness and joy the same thing? Can you have joy when you are unhappy?
To say the least we had lots of questions on this subject. And, like all good Bible studies, we got to work looking for the answers to our many questions. We gathered our resources and began our search in the American Heritage Dictionary. To our great surprise, we found what we believed to be very helpful definitions of both joy and happiness.
Joy: To take great pleasure. To rejoice; to have religious fear or awe. Happiness: Characterized by good luck, fortunate.
Knowing the Bible is our real place for answers, we began to earnestly seek God’s truth on the subject. Our searches led us to these verses: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering... But rejoice that your participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:12 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.” Ps. 28:7 “The sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thanks offerings to the house of the Lord saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; His love endures forever.’ For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before, says the Lord.” Jer. 33:11 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 As these scriptures were read, we discovered some important truths.
1. We should not be surprised when trials come.
2. When we suffer, we participate in the sufferings of Christ . God will help sustain us when we don’t feel like rejoicing.
3. We are called to give thanks in all circumstances, even when we don’t feel like it.
Softly, someone read this scripture: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 “That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:10
As all of the ladies listened, the answers to our questions became clear. Joy is more than happiness and has nothing to do with luck or fortune. Joy is the peace that passes all human understanding. It is possible in the midst of the greatest pain you will ever know, and comes only from our dependence upon and relationship with Jesus Christ. In our humanness, we are unable to have joy and peace when it seems everything around us is caving in. It is only through Him and His strength that we are able to have hope, peace, comfort and joy.
My prayer is that wherever God finds you, in whatever trial you face, you will seek joy through Him. Words cannot fully comfort, nor can they console. The comfort the heart knows is found only in the Creator, the One who promises to be strong in our weakness. This comfort comes form the One who promises to “never leave you nor forsake you.” It comes because of who He is and by His grace.
Dear brothers and sisters, I pray that God’s grace and mercies will be fresh in you this day and forever as you consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.