This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
The story has been told of an elderly blind woman who was being moved to a nursing home. When she arrived, she was taken to her room. She entered and told her attendant enthusiastically, "I love it!" The attendant questioned the woman, "How can you say you love it, when you've never been in it before - and you can't see what it looks like?" The woman spoke up, "Seeing the room doesn't have anything to do with it. Happiness is my choice. I have decided to love my room. Every morning, I have a choice on whether I focus on what I don't like about my life or what I do like about it. I'm choosing right now to love the new room where I'm going to live."
Life has its share of trials and everyone will face situations that are less than desirable. Yet, so much about the quality of our lives is determined not by the situation itself, but rather how we respond to it. Honestly, I don't know if I could handle being moved into a nursing home with the grace demonstrated by the woman in the story. I hope I would, but I'm not sure.
I am always amazed at stories I read or hear along life's journey of people who choose joy, and even happiness, in the face of difficult life situations. Recently, I saw another example of someone choosing to celebrate in the midst of pain. I learned of an acquaintance who died at the age of 46 of melanoma. In the obituary, the reporter remarked how the man's wife didn't sound like someone who had just lost her husband. Instead, she was smiling, beaming with pride, because of the life and character of the man she had been married to for 20 years. This is not to say the woman is not experiencing deep pain and grief. I'm certain she is. But it is remarkable to me that even in the midst of grief, she chose joy.
One thing we all can count on for sure: Our lives will not be lived without trial, struggle and pain. It would be ridiculous to suggest that we ought to be happy when tragedy strikes. Still, it is clear from the Scriptures that God can bring good even out of life's most difficult situations. Here's a most important question: How will we respond to difficult seasons in our lives? Within ourselves, we all have the power to choose joy. It's God's desire for our lives that we do so, and I believe that for our own sakes, joy will always prove to be the better option over bitterness or despair.
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1. Can you think of an example from your life when you have been bitter or have despaired over a difficult situation you've faced? How did that experience change you?
2. How do you think life would have been different if you had chosen to find joy instead of bitterness or despair in the situation above?
1 Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:11-12; Romans 8:28-29
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