Do You Have Joy?
VERSE PASSAGE: 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." - NIV.
Something I have found in Christians is the unwillingness to face a struggle. I'm not talking about a little unwillingness. I am talking about a full blown call the church to amass an army against all struggles of any kind. I am not bashing the church for this. However, there is a line between praying for the struggle that someone is going through and blatantly refusing to go through the struggle.
Many Christians wonder why we should have to struggle at all, and are confused when a struggle comes up in their life. Yet, James stuns everyone in this passage as he says to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials. It's crazy to us that he would say this. Because he is a Christian. Yet, he has admitted that there are going to be struggles for Christians. James has also stated that we should consider it pure joy. One thing I love about this passage is the word "joy". After all James could have used happy and stated it this way "We should feel happy when we face trials." But instead he used the word joy. Why? Because being happy is short lived. Being happy depends on things outside of ourselves to influence our emotional state. However, joy does not. Joy actually comes from within and is based on our relationship with Christ. He has not commanded us to be in the pursuit of happiness because it is a emotional response. Joy comes through God and Him alone.
Being happy relies heavily on our emotional well being and outside things to influence us and trigger the happy feeling. But joy is different. There is a supernatural joy that God gives us. The difference between the two is focus. We can be joyous during trials because our focus is on God and our relationship with Him. Now feelings of happiness are absent when we are feeling sad, depressed, or even during adversity.
Happiness is a very self-centered emotion. Because we have to take pleasure in something to be able to obtain some level of happiness. Even when we are happy for others. If we are happy because of them they have influenced us in our emotional state to be happy and we are pleased by that, thus reverting back to a self-centered emotion.
This verse packs a great promise. Our testing and trials produce in us perseverance, which in turn results in our maturity and completion. We are told that the endurance learned through suffering will make us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Isn’t that what we strive for? God’s Word tells us, that we can be perfected in Christ Jesus when we not only endure our difficult situations, but when we actually consider them joy. If you and I really believed this, we’d be much happier at the things that continually bring us down. We’d be joyful, knowing we were on our way to maturity and completion in Christ.
Be blessed my brothers and sisters in Christ.
• James 1:2-4
Copyright © 2017 by Jacob D. Olinger