"[Trials and Temptations] Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3
Every time I see this verse I think about how hard it can be to actually walk it out. When you're going through a trial, it's easy enough to put on a happy face to friends and outsiders when discussing it, but then the reality is when you're home alone, you're thinking about it almost all the time- and you're certainly not joyful. You're worried. This is where faith and reality collide. A lot. But you know, it can be helpful to spend some time reading other verses in the Bible to help build up our faith a bit. One verse in particular that can be helpful in a trial is Jeremiah 29:11.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
This is a great one to read, because it's God speaking directly to us. And when you're worried about a particular issue, it is such a comfort to close your eyes and take in God saying "I know the plans I have for you". You can think on Him, and while you may not quite be in that state of joy that James was talking about, you can think about how wonderful it is that God knows exactly what is going to happen next. God already has a plan in place to help with the trial you're going through.
Another awesome verse to read over and over in the midst of a struggle is Isaiah 41:9-10
"You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
‘ You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’" Isaiah 41:9-10
Oh, now that IS a good one isn't it? Read that a few times- trial or not, and you can just feel the peace wash over you as you think of God speaking directly to you and saying "Fear not, for I am with you".
There is no trial, no struggle too big for God. And what I like to do when I am in the midst of something that is trying to tear my faith away, I like to think on the other side of the struggle. I like to think on the trial already being over, and looking back and seeing how God worked to get us through. Because those are the stories that faith is made of. When I think back on other trials and struggles that we have gone through in life, each and every one has a story about how God provided, or God gave us faith, or God put the right person in our life at the right time. When we're in the midst of something unpleasant, it helps to talk about prior struggles, and how we had victory over them in times past.
And so that's how I consider it pure joy to go through a trial. I think about the finish line. It's like running a race, eventually, you always come to a finish line, and this struggle too will come to an end. And when you cross that finish line, you will have an amazing journey of strength and endurance to tell others about. The race itself may be grueling at times, and you may think you may not have the energy to make it to the end, but then you think about crossing that finish line, about putting the race behind you, and it gives you a fresh burst of determination to make it through. Thinking on that finish line, and the face of the proud Papa waiting there, encouraging you, is where the pure joy is. God is our biggest cheerleader when we're going through a struggle, and when we think on that, when we think on Him instead of our problems, He finds joy in us, and will give us the perseverance we need to make it to the finish line.
Consider it pure joy. When you've made it to the end of the trial, you will have an amazing testimony to share, and who knows? That could be the very story that leads someone to follow Christ. Your story could be the one that convinces a loved one that they need Jesus to help them in this life. That is pure joy indeed.