We don’t choose faith to avoid trials. Our faith is made genuine through our trials.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” -James 1:2-4
This passage has always frustrated for me.
I want to choose joy in trials, but my face never seems to agree.
My face doesn’t agree because my heart doesn’t accept what my brain is telling it.
Trials are horrible and not fun and who really wants to endure them with JOY?
But this is why we need to be saturating our lives in God’s Word.
We need to be reading and studying and praying and worshipping in season and out of season.
In seasons of plenty and in seasons of want.
In seasons of peace and in seasons of hard circumstances.
Because in the end trials will come, and it is in these trials that we get to make a choice.
It is in these trials we need to have the truth of God’s Word rooted deeply in us, so we can choose joy in the midst of the unthinkable.
Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying.
Jesus’ soul was troubled during His earthly ministry (see John 11:33, Matthew 26:37, Mark 14:33).
Remember Jesus wept when Lazarus died.
He battled in prayer before His crucifixion, asking God to take the cup, give Him another way (Matthew 26:36-42).
Jesus knows trials.
He knows enduring unthinkable madness.
And nowhere in the relaying of the Gospels do we read any indication that Jesus sang and danced and laughed His way to the Cross.
But we do see this:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:1-2
For the joy set before Him … He endured.
Perhaps this passage has always frustrated me because I have a wrong view of joy.
What is joy?
Joy is the presence of Jesus.
In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
When going through trials, it’s easy to fixate on the why.
But perhaps if we took our eyes off our circumstances, and placed our eyes on the joy set before us – the person and work of Jesus Christ our Lord – we would find joy.
Joy is more than a “feel good feeling.”
Joy is the presence of Jesus Christ and fellowship with our Heavenly Father.
Joy is Jesus.
So, choose Jesus in the midst of your circumstances.
Fixate your eyes on Him.
And you will find fullness of joy.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33