Joy is an odd thing. It’s hard to get my head around this feeling at times because, as we all know, feelings are fickle. As humans are feelings are almost wholly dictated by circumstances- by what is happening to or around us. We are happy when things go well, proud of accomplishments, sad with loss, frustrated with adversity, angry with injustice. Our feelings, for better or worse, usually depend on our surroundings.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 ESV
And yet, in this passage, Janes tells us to take joy in trials. It’s an odd encouragement, and not a little contrary to our natural instincts.
“Count it joy”.... choose joy, find joy; our brother is telling us to determine our feelings through resolution in our minds.... not BECAUSE of our circumstances but in SPITE of them. We have to look around, take in the atmosphere and decide how we’re going to feel about it. We can stop feeling recklessly and start choosing how we feel. We don’t need to be victims of uncontrolled emotions.
Yes, we can count hard trials as unfair, be offended, angry, frustrated- that’s certainly the natural tendency of our flesh. God has set us apart for something better however; we can count it joy that God has chosen to place us within a situation where He has plans to grow us.
Dear ones, every situation that is less than ideal is an opportunity to choose joy. To determine in our minds, intentionally, to FEEL joyful- regardless of what is happening. Better yet... BECAUSE of the trial. If we are to believe in the truth that in our weakness He is made strong, then we must also acknowledge that during these hardships His purposes are to magnify Himself through us.
We can’t do that mad. We can’t do that upset. We can’t do that bitter or resentful. We can’t do that with unforgiveness.
We can’t do that if we’re not counting these trials as joy.
The best part about this is that our Heavenly Father meets us within the storm. “...do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10 ESV
And just like that, we have supernatural strength in the midst of the mess. Joy of our Lord glorifies Him and strengthens us as well. We only need to determine in our hearts to feel it- to know it. And by knowing Him, we can always know joy... no matter what.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV
Dear ones may I leave you today with the dictionary’s definition of joy. Meditate on its wonderful implications when viewed through the lens of the Joy of the Lord.
1a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight. b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety.
2 : a state of happiness or felicity : bliss.
3 : a source or cause of delight. joy.