Finding Joy

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."
            -- James 1:2-3

I love how the Bible is full of reminders that God can use terrible circumstances for our good. He wants us to count our trials as a joy. It sounds so strange at first, to think that God wants me to find joy in the midst of life's trials. But in order to understand what this really means, we have to understand that joy and happiness are not the same.

I read this morning in my devotions this excellent explanation of the difference between happiness and joy.

"Happiness is based on our current situation, while joy is based on our future. We may not be happy if we lose our jobs, break our legs, or wreck our cars. But we can have joy in knowing that in spite of all these things, God is good."

Do you know this joy? I know for me, there have been times when it has been hard to find. Every time tragedy strikes, I have to search for that joy again. I have lost loved ones, I have lost babies, I have been treated unfairly, I have been disappointed by people I love. The list could go on and on. But every time I suffer disappointment or despair, I know I can look to God and find my joy. Joy in knowing that He sees me, He is with me, He has a plan for me, and that He can use whatever difficulty I am in to make me a better person, a more Christ-like person.

When a new trial strikes, look back at the ones that have come before it. Find the ways that God strengthened you because of difficulty. Find the ways He used others to minister to you during hard times. Find the amazing things in your life that wouldn't be there if not for struggles you have faced. If nothing else, remember how losing something has made you cherish what you have more than you ever could before.

My friends, I know many of you are hurting today. You are waiting for Him to answer a prayer that you feel you have been praying forever. You are hoping for restoration in a relationship. You are mourning a loss. You are fearing the worst. My prayer is that in the midst of your hurt, you will find God's JOY in your life. Joy in His promises, joy in His presence, and joy in the future He has for you!

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."
         -- James 1:12


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