Quite often, you might read a verse like James 1:2 and think something along the lines of, "But my problems are so big, how can I possibly be joyful?". Maybe you're on the opposite end of the spectrum, and you're thinking, "Compared to the stories I've heard about the horrible things that are happening to Christians abroad, my issues are trivial. God must not be teaching me anything right now".
For reference, here's James 1:2, NIV -
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
I want to focus in on a short but critical word in this scripture: many.
Recently, my wife and I have gone through a lot of change in our lives. We've graduated college in Virginia, moved into an apartment here in Florida, started new full-time jobs, and moved again across the city, all in the span of about 8 months. All of that adjustment has been a serious challenge for both of us. We've both struggled at work and at home, and to be completely transparent here, we still haven't really found the sweet spot.
Now, our lives aren't in danger like so many are in the world today. However, our trials have a difficulty that is all their own, I'm sure many of you can relate. How then, can we be joyful? The next couple verses in James give us a clue:
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:3-4 NIV
That's so huge! The testing of our faith, our struggles, our frustration, our challenges; they're uniquely designed by God so that we might gain perseverance, maturity and completeness.
Our loving, faithful God of the universe has created a perfect system
for growing us and drawing us closer to Himself.
If that doesn't fire you up, you need to check your pulse! I hope that your year is full of joy; intentional, faith-inspired joy.
Here's one of my favorite worship songs for those of us who are going through a challenge. Remember: the Father's arms are open wide.