I was reading James this morning and was struck by the absurdity of his opening sentence…Consider it joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.
In the natural its absurd to encourage anyone to be joyful when going through the trials of life. It’s absurd to even have it suggested to you to consider joy when in the midst of trials. And yet, this is what James is urging his fellow travellers to do.
But, there is a reason behind his apparent madness. It’s because the testing of ones faith, produces perseverance. And through the process of persevering, we mature in our faith. Not only do we mature, we also become complete. We lack nothing.
Have you ever seen some people been rocked by experiencing hard times. I know I have. I’m one of them. I have been through hard times. Painful times. Destructive times. Joyless times. And they were trials that I thought would never end. And I can honestly say that I had little to no joy in the midst of that pain. Yet it seems that for other people, they get rocked by a trial or two – and they calmly face it. They work through it. It doesn’t appear to harm them in any way. They keep trusting, they keep hoping, they keep on keeping on.
But, this is what I have discovered. Those in the latter group, have also at one time or other belonged to the first group. But they persevered through the dark times. They kept pushing into God. Against great odds they trusted God. They hoped in God. They believed God. And its within the processes of trusting, believing, hoping, and perseverance that they came to the place of maturity to be joyful in the face and midst of trials and tribulations.
For there is true joy to be had in knowing that God is walking through the journey of life with us. If he be for us, who can be against us. For the Apostle Paul writes through his own experiential lens. No height, valley, width, space, darkness, light, power, authority and demonic forces can keep us from the love of God.
And so its through the knowledge of God’s love for us, that we can consider being joyful in the midst and face of crisis. For the joy is not our own. It’s the joy of Christ, working through, in and over us, as individuals and community. It’s no wonder then, that the Apostle Paul prayed so hard that his fellow believers would know the depth and the fullness of God’s love for them, in Christ Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
I have to be honest. I am not there yet. But, I am getting there. I am being changed. I am being moulded. I am becoming a man of maturity and completeness. I find it easier to trust, to hope, to believe and to be joyful in the face of the trials of life, as I continue to persevere, in the knowledge of the lord’s love for me.
Father God, help me to keep my eyes firmly on you. May I only know your joy in the midst of the trials of life. May you grant me perseverance. May I come to the place of maturity and completeness. May I truly grow in the knowledge and experience of your love. And Father God. I also pray for all I know, that they too may know the wonders of your love. The incredible empowering presence of your Holy Spirit. And be filled with the joy of knowing you. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven. May we truly know the reality of this blessedness. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.