Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
I remember a time when I had questions about having joy. How can one have joy in the hard things in life? How do you walk through life with great joy regardless of your circumstances. I didn’t understand. There are those that tried to explain it to me, but my mind seemed blind to understanding.
I would always ask “how does one have joy when a father dies and leaves his 24 year old wife with 3 babies under the age of five? Where is the joy of watching your mother try to destroy herself? Or a child being abused? How can you have joy as you watch a father beat your mother? Or watching a child rebel? How can you have joy when a husband looses his job?” So many questions.
Many of the answers I received to my questions were along the line of “it’s because sin is in the world “ “you just have to get beyond those things, forget them and move on” “forgive those who hurt you”. I remember some saying that “I needed to forgive God”
Really? As if God has ever done anything that needed to be forgiven! Where is that in scripture? It’s sad to recall all the well meaning answers and advice that is not based on truth, or bits and pieces of truth. So what is the answer to having joy under trials, temptations, distress, stress and so on?
Here is what I have learned. This is what I know. While I have nothing new to say I have realized that often I forget what the past has taught me. I need to be reminded. Maybe you need the reminder too.
What we fail to understand is that it is impossible to have joy in your suffering. There is nothing joyful about suffering, pain, sorrow, distresses or tribulations. We was try to find joy IN our current circumstances. The object of our joy is all wrong. Nothing about the tribulation or suffering itself can produce joy.
I CAN NOT produce joy on my own. Oh I can put on a happy face, look all bubbly on the outside and TRY to look joyful. But that is not joy and it WILL NOT last.
The object of my joy must be God, and God alone. God, a covenant keeping God and Father in Christ. I need to look to the God of my salvation. I need to remember that He is Christ, the One who pardons iniquity, transgression, and sin.
He, GOD, is the object of my joy.
Joy can never be produced by me or by my circumstances. Joy is the product of the Spirit and it lies in the spiritual. Now, so there is no misunderstanding, I am not talking about the joy I felt on my wedding day or the day a child is born or something good happened. I am addressing the joy I am to have that is mentioned in James 1:2 when it says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,”
What I am talking about is that deep sense of joy knowing that no matter what comes your way you KNOW you will walk through it. You know that it will not destroy you. We can have joy because our focus is not us (ME) at all. Our focus is God.
During trials and suffering we are to look to Him and what we know He is going to do. He is a covenant keeping God and I know that He does not seek to destroy us but seeks to grow and mature us into His image. We must focus on that truth and trust Him.
We can also have joy in trials when we consider who God is. He is a covenant God, the Father of great mercy, the God of all comfort and salvation, who pardoned our sins, clothes us with the robes of righteousness and garments of salvation, and accepts us in Christ. When I choose to focus on the character of God and be mindful of truth I can have great joy and gladness. In Christ there is always a reason for joy because of His person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice.
God is not asking us to be joyful that we are suffering. He is asking us to be joyful in knowing that He is testing our faith in order to produce endurance. We need to allow God to grow us with all joy. He assures us that when our endurance is fully developed we will be strong in character and ready for whatever God has planned.
Joy is a product of the Spirit of God not our circumstances.