I don’t know about you but, if I am being honest, my first reaction to “troubles of any kind” is not usually joy. In the moment, it is hard to see “trouble” as an opportunity for joy…but that’s how James tells us to view it. The point isn’t to pretend to be happy when we face pain but to have a positive outlook for the “opportunity for joy” because of what troubles can produce in our life. As I look back at this season we have recently come out of and in many ways are still in, I’m amazed at the overwhelming joy and faith I have seen from so many in our church. I am often reminded of a quote from Pastor Chuck Swindoll, which states: “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it.” We are in a season where God may be testing our faith, but James tells us that “when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”
In every season, including this one, we can choose JOY in the midst of our circumstances, for our joy is ultimately found in Christ. We find Jesus encouraging His disciples with this reminder in John 15:11, stating: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” When we get discouraged, remember that we serve a God who always has a plan and is for our joy. The Bible even gives us a glimpse into His plan for each of us in Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” I hope this week you will choose to see the opportunity for “great joy” amid your circumstances as we continue to grow, not just as individuals but as a stronger community and church.
I want to leave you with a quote by Margaret Minnicks that helps remind us of the difference between happiness and joy. She says, “Happiness is based on what is happening around us, but JOY is based on what is happening within us.” I pray you can focus less on what is happening around you this week and choose to focus more on how Christ is working within you to bring more joy to yourself and others.