Choosing Joy in Trials
The day had arrived. It was beyond sad. It was solemn, and it was heavy. Without hesitation we were there to support, to console, and to be present. In what seemed like a dream, we were getting ready to speak at the funeral of our dear friend who had just lost her battle to cancer. She had just rounded the corner past 25 years old, and was in every other way a healthy beautiful young lady. But, her life on this earth was over. She was surrounded by her husband who served her until she drew her last breath, she was nurtured and cared for by parents whose baby girl passed before their very eyes, and she was loved and admired by so many friends and family for not only the life she lived, but the strength exhibited in the way she died.
This dear friend was a Christian. She loved Jesus, and she served others. She wasn’t ostentatious, and she wasn’t callous or judgmental. She displayed dignity and compassion. Always quick to listen and slow to speak, she was endearing and she carried herself with class. You wanted to be around her, because she was characterized by joy. Her life exuded joy, and she displayed it until her Lord called her home. And it was into this untimely and tragic situation that her mom, whose name is Joy, has wisdom for us today.
When Joy–months after her daughter’s passing–had others praying for her to have a “better year”, she responds by saying, “A better year? You cannot give me a better year. This was the best year of my life.”
How can a mom–who stared down and continues to stare down the reality that her baby girl is gone–say that? This is almost too much to bear, but it is nevertheless the resolve of this mother when considering the loss of her daughter’s life on this earth.
What can we learn from Joy’s joy to apply to our lives today?
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…”
- “Joy” is a noun that is here preceded by the adjective “all”. Thus, implying an un-mixed or unsoiled-ness to experiencing joy. But, the word is also preceded by another word, consider. Which means to think. In other words, while this joy is certainly an unmixed experience of gratefulness, it is also something that you set your mind to. It’s a conscientious choice that–after the evaluation of your circumstances–you choose to live in this unmixed joy. Hence, Joy’s resolve for joy as she considers her daughter’s life and death.
- “Trials” are not if, but when. The reality of our world–riddled with sin–is that we face trials of varying proportions and causes everyday. To prove this, James places the preceding word, various, before trials, which essential means manifold. In other words, the trials that are faced are not going to be the same. It’s as if we live in a world that has built-in and diverse challenges to face.
- Thus, we are needy. We are vulnerable. And we are unable to do this alone. And so, it was into this manifold trial-filled world that God sent His Son. It was into this world that we have One who overcame sin and death, and therefore promises those who love Him that their death won’t be the final say about their life. No, no, Joy–the mother to the dear lady who passed–knows that her daughter may not be here in person, but she lives on in her (and many other minds), and that her daughter simply passed from life to life. Joy knows that she will be reunited with her daughter because of Christ; and so, she chooses–considers it all–joy.
Glory, because of Christ there can be joy. We can have true joy beyond, outside of, and above our circumstances. Glory.
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