James 1: 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

There are a lot of things I can find joy in; relationships, worship, teaching, art, books, friends, and food....but trials? That's just hard to get excited about.

It reminds me of my second grade teacher who tried desperately to help us find joy in chores. "You get the honor of cleaning the underside of the desks, isn't that exciting?" Needless to say, she was unable to capture our hearts with petrified gum, which is really just as exciting as trials. We all have them, we all suffer through them, but we aren't exactly joy-filled about them.

The kicker is this. God doesn't just say joy but pure joy! The word used here for joy is the Greek word "xara," which can also mean with gladness or rejoicing. Rejoice when you go through trials! Be glad! Be joyous!

How do we do that? How do we go through trials, tribulations, and persecution with joy not simply on our face, but in our hearts?

2 Corinthians 1 gives us a clue:

8-11We don't want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn't think we were going to make it. We felt like we'd been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he's the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he'll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. (MSG)

This is Paul's letter to the Church at Corinth, in which he describes a period of their stay in Asia that was difficult. Imprisonment and death followed them there and victory seemed impossible. But Paul tells them that instead of being the worst thing he'd experienced, it turned out to be the best, forcing him to rely on the Lord instead of himself. Did you hear the message in that? It isn't on us!

Maybe we could re-word this verse:

Rejoice when you go through trials of many kinds, because this is an opportunity to see God's power and favor and grow in faith and the love of Christ!

Trials are an opportunity to see God at work! Trials do not hinder God's work, but spur it along, because God always comes through. The battle is the Lord's.

Joseph stood on God's promise through slavery and slander, Isaac through sacrifice, Paul through imprisonment, ship wrecks, and torture, Daniel in the lion's den.....these men knew God, and knew the joy of stepping back and watching Him work.

Rest assured God can take our disappointment, our heart ache, our tears. Jesus wept. We're not talking about smiling through the dark valleys here. No fake facades! It's about that deeper joy, the one that resonates regardless of tears or laughter.

That joy that no one can take away, the joy of knowing the ending (victory) in the beginning.

Psalm 45:15 They are led in with joy and gladness. They enter the palace of the king.


  1. For the past week our church has been studying this and it has been soothing to my soul. Thank you for being a witness, so I can see God really wants me to have joy during this mess we are in. Please pray for our family, we are going to look at a house today that would be perfect if we can work on finances with the owner!


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