Choose Joy

by Brie Barrier Wetherbee
The dictionary defines it as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.”
The apostle James tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” (James‬ ‭1‬:‭2‬).
Have you ever thought about how backwards that is?
Let’s put those together: “Take great delight in suffering.” Stop and read that again. “Take great delight in suffering.”
People often ask me how I can endure suffering and pain with a joyful heart and a genuine smile. I’m here to tell you that taking delight in suffering is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do…and I have to make that deliberate choice every single day.
But I don’t have to do it alone. When I ask, God continually reminds me that He is with me. He is the “exceptionally good” source of joy. And when I choose to remember what He’s done for me, on the eternal scale of salvation and on the small scale with earthly blessings, I am able to experience real joy.
This week, I’ve suffered greatly. The pain associated with my IV infusion was pretty brutal. It triggers a migraine that hurts so much I can’t see. Every joint swells and every muscle cramps for at least 48 hours after I finish. And I do the treatment every other Thursday.
So yesterday morning, I’d had enough. I started weeping. I kept asking God, “How much longer will I have to do this? Will I always hurt this much? I don’t think I can fight through the pain anymore.”
Then I heard a quiet voice in my heart, “You may suffer even more. But I’m here. I’ll be strong so you don’t have to be. I’ll endure when you can’t. And I promise, your suffering has a purpose.”
James 1 came to mind again: “Consider it true joy when you face troubles.” Why? “ “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 ‭1‬:‭3-4).
In other words, when we choose joy in response to suffering, we grow up spiritually. Ultimately, we become more like Jesus.
That’s what I want, more than anything else. I want my response to suffering to bring Him glory. I want enduring the pain with a joy-filled attitude and a genuine smile to point people to Jesus. My pain has a purpose.
Today, I will choose joy.

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