When I was younger, one of the most confusing verses in all of Scripture for me was James 1:2. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2 NIV). In the world’s eyes, this verse probably seems absolutely ridiculous. If we have a trial, the world thinks we should consider it the opposite of joy and should wallow in self-pity. This might be why the verse confused me. Anyway, it’s a tough one to understand and an even tougher one to live out, but when Mom was diagnosed with cancer, I was facing a trial and therefore had to face this verse head on.
This verse is a command. This verse doesn’t say, “If you’re having an awesome day consider it joy…” Nope, it says, “Consider it joy…” No options. We must consider our trials pure joy. Now, it’s not like when my mom got diagnosed with cancer we jumped for joy & threw a party. This isn’t what this verse is talking about. Trust me, when Mom was diagnosed and passed away from cancer there were lots of moments of sadness. I still have moments of sadness, even months later. However, even in moments of sadness, we could have joy because we knew God was using this trial for our good and His glory.
Joy isn’t a fleeting emotion like happiness is. Joy comes from God, and we must ask Him for it. This verse also tells us to have joy in trials because it develops perseverance which leads to us being mature in Christ (James 1:3-4). As a Christian, we should always be desiring to mature in Christ, and sometimes, God will bring a trial in our life in order to do that.
God definitely used the biggest trial of my life to do just that. I had to learn to obey James 1:2. I’m sure I failed many times, and the only reason I succeeded when I did was because I relied on Christ for joy. Living out this verse isn’t humanly possible, but it is possibly with the help of the Holy Spirit. Yes, my family faced a trial, but because we are Christians and we knew that Mom was too, our house and lives were still filled with joy. During Mom’s journey, we were blessed with memories of laughter around the dinner table, having fun at the beach together, celebrating life’s milestones together, and much more. Now that Mom has passed, I can have joy knowing she is cancer free, completely healed, and is with Jesus. My mom is more healed now than she ever would have been here on this earth!
A trial is going to come your way. There’s no options in that… it’s all over Scripture. When the trial does come, God does NOT call us to wallow in self-pity, walk around depressed, and live like we have no hope. God calls us to have joy. Let me make this clear: It’s okay to cry & be sad! However, still praise Jesus even in the midst of the storm. He is sovereign and His plans are best. Even in the midst of your greatest storm, have joy knowing that God is using this in your life to mature you and is using the trial to glorify Himself. If you ask Him, I am sure He will bless you with moments of extra joy and laughter just like He did our family!