Going for Joy
2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
It’s the question every follower of Jesus Christ has asked. You’ve asked it and so have I. Why, God?
I’d like to nominate James 1:2 as one of the most outrageous statements in the Bible. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”Count it all joy? Really?
That is what James wrote, through the inspiration of God’s Spirit, but it doesn’t add up from our perspective. Getting a more biblical definition of joy really helps us make sense of the encouragement to find the joy when life is hard. Joy is something very different than what we commonly refer to as happiness. So when the Scripture says, “Count it all joy,” the Lord is not saying, “Be happy about your trials.”
Happiness is something completely different. I’ve heard it said that happiness is based on happenings. It’s an in-the-moment, I’m-so-excited kind of feeling. But happiness can vanish in a heartbeat. It doesn’t last.
When James reminds us to “count it all joy,” we need to remember it has nothing to do with happiness. We’re not talking about those fleeting, oh-I’ll-be-so-happy-if or won’t-it-be-great-when emotional highs.
You can’t make yourself joyful. Joy comes only from God. When James says, “Consider it all joy,” he’s telling you, “Reach out to God. Get God’s heart in this matter.”
So what is joy? Here’s a definition: Joy is asupernatural delight in the Person, purposes, and people of God.
Have you ever sensed God at work in you, or seen His obvious hand in a situation and knew in your heart of hearts that God did that? Have you ever stood on a moonlit night by the shore looking up into space and sensing your soul being eclipsed by the God who made it all? What you felt in that moment was joy in who God is. Have you ever been in a worship service where with one loud voice you felt caught up in proclaiming the awesome majesty of God? Something is happening inside you and it’s more than singing—it’s joy!—James MacDonald
· How would I describe the difference between happiness and joy from examples in my own life?
· What difference does joy make in the way I handle life?
Prayer: Father in heaven, teach me to count it all joy! Remind me to add up everything in my life as a grand equation of Your work to bring me more and more into joy. Show me what Jesus meant when He told His disciples that all He said and did was to develop His joy in them. Father, I long for that too. Whatever happens today, help me keep the joy-count going every step of the way! In Jesus’ name, Amen.