James 1: 2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I’ve never liked this verse.
Yet, today, as I look at it with a fresh perspective, I am trying to change the angle and deepen my understanding. Maybe there’s something here I haven’t paid attention to before. I’ve been know to miss a thing or two (or 20). So, I put my focus on the word joy, and went back to Kay Warren’s definition of it. She says:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
Ah….that changes things a bit.
Joy: the deep-in-the-gut peace of knowing, without a doubt, that He’s got this. He knows exactly what’s going on and what’s about to happen. He holds the outcome in His hands (along with the whole world, no less). And His heart is 100% for me.
Let’s go back and read those verses again with this focus.
The trials are there to prove this – to my fragile little heart, to a broken world, to the souls around me who desperately need a sign that shows them the light, and to the dark shadows that threaten to overwhelm us all.
I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to celebrate it, at least not in a conventional way.
I have to walk through it.
I can choose to do so with confidence and strength and peace, or I can do so with bitterness and fear and doubt. The circumstances may be beyond my control, but how I approach them is absolutely not. It’s a choice, plain and simple: look up or look down; head held high or posture of defeat; shine with His light or be crushed by the dark.
It’s a process, this completing of our selves. There’s a point to the pain, and if we can remember that, we can fight through anything, carry any load, conquer any fear. It won’t be easy, but it will always be worth it.
James knew this beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s why he opened with it. No pain, no gain, kids….and oh what a gain we’re in for.
Solidarity, sisters. No one gets stronger by lifting feathers.