Consider It Pure Joy

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 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 1:2-4
Stress and worries seem to be the new normal during these days of Enhanced Community Quarantine. This is especially true for those who have people under their wings. For example, us parents. 

We need to think about everything and we wonder how we are going to get through all of this. When options are limited, stress and worry levels really do get high.

There could be times in our lives when we get so overwhelmed that we respond in such a way God is not glorified with our behavior. This was where the apostle James was coming from when he said the words in the passage above.

The first time you read it, you may wonder how on earth can we consider our trials to be "pure joy," as what James said. 

But upon contemplating and realizing that the "joy" he was talking about was not the naive happiness kind, we would understand the kind of joy or happiness he was referring to comes from Christ.

I've always said happiness or joy is a choice. You can be happy or joyful only if you choose to. That is right.

But it was only partially correct, because the source of real happiness or joy is only God. Even if we choose to be happy, if our choice of happiness does not come from God, then it will be, at best, temporary.

Here are three principles from the verses above that will help us realize it is possible to consider our trials and sufferings as pure joy:

1. Trials train us to persevere. Similar to the way exercise develop physical strength and muscles, trials develop our faith and perseverance.

Trials allow us to grow spiritually, increasing the way we trust God. This way, we also get to know God deeper and better as we experience His presence throughout our circumstances.

2. Perseverance makes us mature and complete. This is perhaps the greatest benefit we can gain from going through challenges and hardships. 

Without learning perseverance, we would not be able to grow in character and become the person God wants us to be.

The key is to let perseverance work in us. Try to get its full benefit and not cut corners. Really, there is no shortcut to becoming truly mature.

3. The worth of maturity is far greater than the convenience of a life without trials. It is like going through a tough operation to save your life. You have to go through something risky and dreadful, but the risk would be worth your life in the end.

So what's so great about maturity? It means our character is becoming like that of Jesus'. What's so great about becoming like Jesus? Jesus enjoyed God's goodness and majesty deeply. He savored God's presence in all circumstances and experienced pure joy and peace. 

So what do you think is better, a trial-free life or a trial-proof life? A deep relationship with God that lasts beyond this earthly existence or an earthly life without problems, full of pleasure, which happiness ends after death and into eternity?

Final Words

Yes, it is hard to be happy and peaceful while we are going through trials and sufferings. But we need to realize these challenges are part of our training into perseverance, to then become mature and complete, not lacking anything, in the presence of our God.

God wants us to be mature in character, more like his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. If it is God's will for us, then you have to trust that it is really for our best.

What we need to do is to pray. Pray even more. Pray that God will continue to give us strength, joy, peace, and perseverance in this time of calamity. 

Faith is the substance of things hoped for but not seen. Ask God to give us more faith and see what will happen next. 

Ultimately, after all these trials and sufferings, if we continue to stand in faith with God, then we will emerge victorious no matter what happens. To live is for Christ and to die is gain!

Jesus, our Savior Himself, will welcome us with open arms in paradise. By then we will know, everything was worth it. He is worth it.