James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
In the midst of suffering, joy is often the furthest thing from our minds. When we mourn the sudden loss of a loved one, we're not initially thinking about spiritual growth. When we are reeling from the sting of betrayal, perseverance isn't at the top of our to-do list. When we lose our job unexpectedly, we don't usually respond by thanking God.
In these instances, God is not asking us to "just put on a happy face.” Instead, He’s reminding us to choose joy. Unlike happiness, joy is not a temporary emotion, but a deep confidence that God is in control regardless of the outcome.
Anytime God allows trials to enter our lives, there's always a purpose. The more we obey and trust, the more we grow, the more we can endure, the more we can help others, and the more we can discover a deeper sense of what living is all about. That’s when we find joy.
God does not cause the bad things that happen in our lives, but He has the power to produce good through them. We can feel sadness and even get angry at God in those seasons — while being filled with the joy of trusting Him at the same time. Joy gives us the strength to keep going.
Are you in a trial right now? If not, you probably just went through one, or one is right around the corner. How will you respond? Write down this verse and begin to memorize it. The next time a trial comes, CHOOSE JOY!
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of joy. I take comfort in knowing that You always have my best interest in mind. Thank You for the promise that You are always with me in my time of need. Amen.