“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3
Pure joy. I can think of a few times I felt this elated. The first time I held my precious niece, Arabella in my arms…pure joy. The first sight of my husband on my wedding day…pure joy. The day my sister surprised me by flying out to attend a women’s conference I was speaking at…pure joy. Celebrating alongside each dear friend who has become a mom…pure joy. So I can imagine the turmoil going on inside of you right now as you peer at these strange sounding words in James 1. I feel the tension, too. Consider trials or hardships pure joy? Really? What an audacious command! We would do well, though, to stop that train of thought right there before allowing it to take us to the pit of unbelief that it’s heading towards. Remember that all Scripture is breathed out by God and is useful. We must dig deeper here.
Is God really asking you and I to have a good ‘ole belly laugh over our pain? Um, no He is not. So what is He getting at here in James 1? The command to “consider it pure joy” is literally saying, “Think on every reason you have in your life right now to possess joy, and choose joy amidst this. Christ is with you.” Wow! Imagine that. The joy of the Lord is offered to us as our strength in times of trials, which is one of many reasons to have joy in the face of pain. His constant presence provides joy for our souls. Not a happiness that is displayed as a smile across our face – rather, a joy of the soul that finds reason to praise the God of Heaven, even in the storm.
Can you recall some of the wondrous promises that God gives us in His Word? How about you and I take a stroll down Promise Lane, shall we? The promise of renewed strength to those who hope in the Lord (Isaiah 40:31), the promise of perfect peace to those who trust in the Lord (Isaiah 26:3), the promise of healing and restoration to those who return to the Lord (Hosea 6:1-3), the promise of sharing in Christ’s holiness to those who endure the discipline of the Lord (Hebrews 12:10), the promise of wisdom to those who would ask the Lord for it (James 1:5), the promise of rest for those who would come to the Lord and lay their burden down (Matthew 11:28), and the list goes on and on. The joy we can possess in the face of hardship and trial is choosing to fall back on all that we have available to us in Christ. He extends His promises to each one of us out of His mercy and grace. Therefore, consider it joy because to all those who have received Him, to those who have believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Consider THAT joy, sisters! God is at work in the thing, make no mistake about it!