In my last post we discussed our salvation as the source of our JOY. Today’s source is gonna seem like an unlikely source of JOY. Let’s let God tell us directly from his word. James 1:2,3 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” It seems like an oxymoron to say JOY comes from trials. But that’s what it says right there in black and white – straight from God’s mouth to James’ pen.
I don’t know about you but I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m kind of torn actually. If I’m a Christian then why must I suffer with trials? If a person lives ever in the presence of Christ (via the Holy Spirit) then why is suffering necessary? I think that question can be answered in II Corinthians 1:3-6 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” This passage brings me great comfort actually. It goes hand in hand with the age old question (which is another blog post entirely) “why do bad things happen to good people”. I’ve used this passage as an explanation for why God gave me the burden of Fibromyalgia and depression to bear. Who better to help another than someone who has walked the same exact path they are.
Now how does all of that lead to JOY? Good question. I’m glad you asked. The answer is found in I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast”. Restoration, strength, standing firm and steadfast. God wants to restore us and strengthen us right through to the other side of our trials. You know that feeling you get when you have arrived safely to the other side of something hard? The sense of accomplishment you feel deep inside? That’s it! I feel that when someone crosses my path who is dealing with pain or depression. I can help them because I’ve been there. I consider that very thing to be my calling. And when I can utilize the lessons God has taught me through the trials he has placed on me. That sense of satisfaction I feel in my Spirit is joy.
One more point to go along with the source of discovering the power of God and the purpose for our tribulations as a key to joy is the times when we have brought trouble into our life ourselves. Those times require repentance, forgiveness, discipline and restoration. There are those times when we must be disciplined by God. Chances are you know exactly what I’m referring to. We are his children and children need to be disciplined from time to time – some more than others. God tells us in Hebrews 12:6-10 “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a] 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. ” So if you’ve been disciplined by God before than you know he loves you. You know that warm feeling you get after a rough patch in a relationship? Well that’s the same way with God.
Jeremiah 31 lists at least ten promises regarding the JOY of restoration, I won’t take the time to list them here because this entry is considerably longer than what I usually post. But before you lay your head on your pillow tonight read that chapter and see if you can spot those promises.
Thanks for letting me share what I’m learning in this study. It’s good stuff! Tomorrow, though, I have some bad news to share. Better brace yourself.