Consider it Pure Joy... Really?
I'm not a fan of hard seasons. Trials and temptations? I'll pass thank you very much. My head and heart have a hard time heeding the Biblical mandate to "consider it pure joy" when my life and faith are tested. How about you?
If there's anything this year has taught us it's that trials are inevitable. They often come when we least expect them and they sometimes last longer than we can imagine.
Throughout this season, we've absorbed a lot of well-intentioned advice about navigating these hard times. Friends, family, colleagues, scientists, the faith community, and experts around the world have shared words designed to offer hope and encouragement.
But in the cacophony of words, I can't recall a single mention to consider it pure joy to be walking through a season of such pain for so many.
I have a hunch that those who have experienced joy in this season have been silent, afraid to publicly acknowledge that, in some ways, life has been better.
We've spent time with people we love, reconnecting in new ways.
We've slowed down and evaluated what's most important to us.
We've considered new job possibilities and what we want for the future.
We've given thanks for things we normally take for granted, like our health and freedom.
We've become more resilient and learned to adapt to the unexpected.
More often than we realize, joy and pain collide.
I think this is what James was talking about when he penned the opening verses in his New Testament writings.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4
James is crystal clear when he tells us that trials will come and they will take many different forms. This time around, the trial showed up as a nearly undetectable, microscopic virus that wreaked havoc around the world.
We've experienced a universal trial of epic proportions.
The same outcome of this trial, perseverance and maturity, is available to all. But only some will embrace what it takes to experience it - to consider it pure joy.
How's your joy meter?
If I'm honest, mine hasn't been so great. I've been navigating a hard season along with the rest of the world. Joy has always been a bit elusive for me, even in the best of times.
So, this is me. Preaching to myself.
Here are 3 ways to consider it pure joy to navigate this shared trial.
- Embrace the little things. A sunny day. A text from a friend. A hug from your spouse. A home-cooked meal. These are opportunities for pure joy. Don't miss them. Store them deep in your memory bank for the next time you need a dose of joy.
- Give thanks. Pray. Meditate. Be still. Express your gratitude to God and others with your words. Your heart will follow. In your silence, notice the things around you that shout of God's goodness and pure joy. They are ready and waiting to be acknowledged.
- Ask and receive. Ask for wisdom, belief, and humility. Petition the Lord for what you lack. He promises to provide. James reminds believers of the pure joy that is available when we turn to God for our needs in times of trial. Be blessed in times of trial.
You are not alone.
But it can feel like it.
Listen in to this new podcast episode with Kristen Joy (yes, her real name!) as she shares her own experience fighting for joy in the midst of really hard circumstances.
If you are experiencing joy right now, don't be shy about it! We need to hear your story. We need to be reminded to carve a path to joy. We need to know it's possible and see it in real people around us who we know and love. Shout it from the rooftop!
If you're not experiencing joy, it's okay. I get that, too.
Embrace the little things. Give thanks. And ask for what you need from God in the pursuit of perseverance and maturity.
Joy comes one trial at a time.