Brothers | Shaped | Choose Joy
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy… (James 1:2)
“Troubles” is a generic word that doesn’t adequately describe some of the garbage we go through. It’s easy to congratulate ourselves when we manage not to lose our cool over the waiter getting our order wrong or having to wait two weeks for our new iPhone. But what about when “troubles” refer to real crises, like those events of the past that still haunt us? What about when the bills come home and the spouse doesn’t? When someone breaks your heart or breaks into your house? When physical or mental illness cripples you and God seems silent? How can trouble like that be an opportunity for great joy?
James does not say that trouble itself is a joyful thing. No grieving parent rejoices that a child has died. We’re not expected to do the happy dance when the lay-offs start. Those are real troubles. But James challenges us to use those times as opportunities to remember that this world is not all there is. Our time here is a blink compared to eternity. Even through our tears, we can choose joy by remembering that Jesus suffered too and He understands. Tragedy is not joyful; it is an opportunity to live what we claim to believe. Frustration is an opportunity to choose joy, not despair. Faith, not fear. Patience, not anger. Peace, not bitterness. Our reaction to troubles also reveals whether we have placed too much importance on this world and not enough on the next. Joy may not be our automatic response when troubles come, but we can choose it.
Final Thought: Have you considered that joy is a choice? How do you respond when troubles come your way?
Prayer: Father, joy is not usually my first response to troubles. I react rather than respond, but I went to change that. Teach me to consider trouble as an opportunity to rely on you and to walk in joy-producing faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.