Pure Joy?

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, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (James 1:2-8)

Pure joy?  That’s a tall order in light of some of the real-world difficulties that we face in life, isn’t it?  Still, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be thought of by God as a “double-minded woman, unstable in all she does.”  I believe that we all desire stability in our lives.  I think it’s easy, however, to fall into the trap of believing that stability is an external thing ~ that peace and rest and calm continuity come only when our lives are void of any upset.  We long for that imaginary world of If Only.  If Only that driver hadn’t cut me off; If Only I could get a better job; If Only I had more money; If Only… fill in the blank ~ we all have them.

Think about it.  If God had a Facebook page, how many ‘likes’ do you think He’d get after posting the above verses?  How many would ‘unfriend’ him?  “Test ME?!!  I don’t think so!  Delete!”  Seriously, we all will face the inevitable difficulties in life; there is no escaping that reality.  Too often, however, in the midst of our trials we fall into the trap of judging God’s motives.  Life is good = God is good and He loves me.  Life is bad = God is not good or He is angry with me.

The question remains for each of us: Will I simply react to the struggles I am facing or will I respond realistically?  The proper question to ask in the midst of our pain is not, “Why me?”, but “Why not me?”  I think the key lies in humility. Humility removes the assumption that somehow we should be above trouble.  Humility tells us that if we stand, it is only by grace.  Humility tells God, “Whatever it takes to make me useful to your kingdom ~ I’m willing.”  We need to allow Him to take whatever measures are necessary to bring about the righteousness that He desires in us.  This is as true in those minor irritations we face on a daily basis as it is in the major trials of life.  In fact, I believe it is in the minor difficulties that we have the opportunity to exercise our faith and learn to trust.  Those who are faithful in the everyday are much more likely to be found standing firm in the powerful gales that life has to offer.

We need to remember that the act of our salvation is the greatest sign of God’s love and care for us.  All else pivots on that one great act; all sorrows, trouble, and hardships beyond that point ~ and God’s peace that accompanies them ~ are simply confirmations of His continuing faithfulness.

To rejoice in our trials, then, requires our humble submission to God’s often-mysterious plan.  We rest not in what we see, but in the God who sees all; the God who works every situation out for the good of those who trust in Him.  We rejoice in the belief that our Heavenly Father has a plan and a purpose for everything that comes our way  ~ both good and bad.

6 comments for “Pure Joy?

  1. February 8, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    I like to hold onto that concept of God’s “mysterious” plan. I don’t know why but it gives me such peace. I guess because I know that He is good. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Barbara
    February 8, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Not “Why me”, but “Why not me”! I wish I could have that engraved on the inside of my brain in permanent form! Thanks for a wonderful reminder of what it means to be in genuine submission to the will of God. Thanks again, Jeri, for saying it so beautifully.

  3. Jen
    February 9, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    Needed this truth today Sis, love you!

  4. Christie Lambert
    February 9, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    There is so much wisdom packed into this article. This quote especially challenges my heart today: “Humility tells God, “Whatever it takes to make me useful to your kingdom ~ I’m willing.” We need to allow Him to take whatever measures are necessary to bring about the righteousness that He desires in us.” Thanks for bringing out this truth and inspiring me to strive even more for this attitude!

  5. February 9, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    I think you hit the nail on the head, Sharon. Our peace (or lack thereof) is directly related to our right understanding of who God has revealed Himself to be. His understanding is far above ours, He can see the end from the beginning and He loves us deeply. How easy it is to take our eyes off of Him and to lean instead on our own understanding!

    Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is my heart’s prayer for each one of us:

    For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:14-21)
    Love you, Sisters!

  6. Jacquie
    February 9, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    Amen to that prayer, Jeri, and thanks!

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