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
Listen: James 1
Those first Christians to read the letter of James were in the midst of significant trials. Jerusalem had become a hostile place for Christians. Many were murdered, often in brutal and public ways. So they scattered. They left their homes and their families in search of safety. As James writes to this group, he immediately wants to reframe how the Christians see their situation. He knew they couldn’t wait for their trial to be over before choosing joy.
History and Scripture is full of Christians going through trials. According to Hebrews 11, some believers were tortured, imprisoned, beaten, and sawed in two. Yet, James encourages these believers to choose joy even in the midst of the trials.
Notice James does not tell them to be happy about the beating. Happiness is a feeling and dependent on current circumstances. This joy is a posture of the heart that has nothing to do with present circumstances. James wants them to decide to have joy even when they are unhappy with the circumstances.
As we read the stories of early believers, we are humbled by their faith in the midst of such horrible conditions. At the same time, we can learn how we can respond when we face difficulty such as when the car breaks down and there is no money to pay for it, when you find out your job has been cut, when a loved one is living a destructive lifestyle, or the cancer is back. James would tell us that we need to choose joy, even if we are not happy about our circumstance.
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
Choosing joy in difficult situations doesn’t come naturally to any of us. Spend some time thinking and praying about a habit you could do to encourage you to choose joy. This could be a sticky note you read each morning on your mirror, a phrase you repeat every time you wake up, or “save as” one of these lock screens below for your mobile. Make this a daily habit to choose joy.
Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.