I’ve got to admit that James 1:2 threw me for a loop the first hundred times or so that I heard or read it.
Joy and trials seem to be the perfect oxymoron.
Surely I have the right to be angry and upset in the midst of my suffering; being joyful just seems a lot to ask.
However, over time I’ve come to adjust my perspective.
Here are a few things that I considered:
1. How can I ever have a testimony if I never have a test? If you continue reading to the end of the verse, we learn that there is a benefit to be gained through suffering – your faith is strengthened!
2. We live in a world of sin which means horrible things will happen. I always used to think “Why me/her/him/them”? But why not? Which of us is exempt from the consequences of sin?
Christ, who did not sin, experienced unimaginable suffering without complaining. Who am I to expect to be treated differently?
3. Happiness is fleeting. Based on what’s going on in our lives, we are either happy, sad or in between.
But true joy comes only from God. When I consider that I have God with me in the middle of my trials, that I am not alone – that knowledge brings me joy. What if I were truly alone?
So no, I don’t expect you to be happy about a pending divorce, about a devastating diagnosis, or the unexpected loss of your job but it is possible to be joyful knowing that God has promised to be with you no matter what.
4. God is working behind the scenes. We are told that “All things work together for good to those that love the Lord” Romans 8:28.
I know that it can be difficult.
Our finite minds prefer when we can see things happening.
For example, Joseph must have wondered what was going on. He was being faithful, but one bad thing after another kept coming his way. He just couldn’t seem to catch a break.
Nevertheless he held on to God, although his faith was severely tested and God took him from the pit to the palace, albeit with a stop in prison along the way.
No one could have seen that coming.
But that’s the God we serve. We have no idea what is ahead of us.
We just need to commit our lives to His care.
So whenever we are tempted to wallow in the mire of self-pity, let us allow the peace, that only God can give, to fill us with joy. “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philipians 4:7 ESV.