8.10.12 "Pure Joy"

Today’s scripture reading is James 1: 2-5.   Ask God for revelation regarding these verses and how it applies to your life and circumstances right now.  He really spoke to me today! Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,(A) because you know that the testing of your faith(B) produces perseverance.(C) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature(D) and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,(E) who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  (NIV)

 2-4Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 5If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it.   (The Message)

“Consider it pure joy”....this really spoke to me today.   It doesn’t say, “endure your trials”  or  “just give in to your trials” or “be ok with trials”!   It says, “consider them pure joy”!  How can I look at trials and struggles as pure joy and not just something I have to get through or deal with?  And “why” do I need to consider them pure joy?

I believe the scripture is telling me that it’s the perseverance under the pressure of a trial that changes me.  It’s not the trial itself, but how I stand up under it...how I handle it... the attitude with which I deal with it... and IF I deal with it instead of trying to escape and take the easy way out.

When my faith is being tested and I’m in the middle of a trial or struggle, I’m not thinking about the end goal.  I’m just trying to survive it!  But God is saying if I will look at the end goal, I can be more joyful in the midst of it.  I can be changed by it, be matured by it, be wiser because of it, and be more complete and ready as an instrument of God because I persevered.  I can consider it pure joy because of what it’s accomplishing within me.   Persevering through trial is work!  It’s not easy and it’s not supposed to be - otherwise there would be no fruit from it.   I don’t believe God expects me to jump for joy, be excited and yell “woo hoo!” when trials come, but He does expect me to “fear not” when they happen.  To trust Him and the work He’s doing in me because of it.  The trials may not always come from Him, they may come because of my own brokenness or because of the brokenness in the world, but my faith is tested and I can grow from every uncomfortable or bad thing that happens to me regardless of the circumstances around it.  If I choose to trust Him in my struggles, it gives God an opportunity to be faithful to me, to take care of me, and to change me... and that’s pure joy!

I like the way The Message interprets verses 3 and 4:  “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work...”.    The way we handle ourselves in the midst of trials can be so encouraging to others.  God can use our attitudes through struggles and trials in a powerful way - if our attitude is positive.  It shows people - especially those far from God - our true colors, what our faith life is really like, and in what or WHO we put our hope and trust.  It’s a huge witness to those around us.  I have a friend who has cancer.  Dealing with cancer isn’t a trial that can be avoided or that you can run from.  She doesn’t have a choice but to deal with it, endure it, persevere through it so the work can be accomplished... but she is a beautiful example of persevering with pure joy!  Earlier this week she started her second round of chemo.  We were talking about her day and the chemo, and in my heart I’m anxious for her, sad for her, hurting for her, worried for her... etc.  But as she was driving off to go to chemo, she rolls down her window and says, “Bye... I love you... this is going to be an AWESOME day! - see you later!”   Pure joy... even though she knew she was going to be tired, sick, and hurting because of the effect of the chemo on her body that day - she was already living in God’s grace for her and He was giving her pure joy.

I can trust Him to do that for me.  And you can trust Him to do that for you in the midst of your trials too.  I believe God is saying, “Fear Not!” because even though you will suffer, be persecuted, face trials of many kinds,  I am with you... I have your heart and your soul taken care of!”   My friend knows this and her example of trust and joy was a gift from God to me.

Lord, your Word says to ask for wisdom and you will give it generously to all without finding fault.  Please give me wisdom Lord.  Wisdom to have a deeper understanding of your word and your ways.  Wisdom to handle my trials in a way that’s pleasing to you, a witness for others, and with pure joy!   I want to trust you fully in all circumstances and to “fear not”!   Amen.

Has God revealed anything new to you today?   Please share!