Sunday, December 14, 2008
Not feeling that Joy to the World? Sometimes life can be hard. Whether we’re dealing with something as huge as a potentially terminal illness or as (comparatively small as) a strong-willed toddler, we all go through times that we’d like to hit the fast-forward button and warp through.
But wherever life has landed you today, there is something in it for you. Even in the most trying times there is take-away value if you endeavor to invest yourself fully and do your best. The Bible says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2
Yeah, yeah, sure! I’m all caught up in my joy when things are going wrong and I’m struggling to remain standing. Well, I guess you can see that it’s a good thing I’m not pastoring a church. I stumble and falter through the tough times…looking and hoping for the joy, but it doesn’t always come easily. The thing that keeps me motivated to seek it is the promise at the end of that verse—“lacking nothing.” If I find joy in the most trying times, that promise always seems to be fulfilled.
At this moment I know a precious woman who is suffering with a long-term illness while caring for her ailing mother and home-schooling her young daughter. Yet she is joyful because she loves them and considers it a gift to care for them. I know a man who recently learned that his brother (55 years old) is likely going to die shortly from cancer. Yet he is joyful that he has a job which allows him to travel across the country frequently to spend time with him. I know a family that has worked hard, served God and been wise with their finances for many years but is facing an uncertain economic future. Yet they are filled with joy because they are OK today.
There is something in those trials for each of them. The trial will end but if they give up, cop out through drugs or alcohol or just wallow in misery and complaining every day, they won’t emerge with the gift they were meant to receive.
Holidays can trigger difficult emotions and bring about trying circumstances, but there is joy to be found in the midst of it. Look around and find the joy, or try creating it for someone else. You’ll surely get a big return on your investment.
Share a struggle you’ve been through where you found unexpected joy. This will encourage those who may be on the same journey. (You saw some of my joy at the top of the page!)