Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds
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Perhaps thatâ€™s because we tend to confuse joy with happiness, and this verse does not say, â€œBe happy about your trials.â€ Happiness is a fleeting, circumstantial, in-the-moment, excited feelingâ€”an emotional high.
Joy is very different. You canâ€™t make yourself joyful. Joy comes only from God. Joy is a supernatural 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 that God did that? Have you ever stared up into starry space and sensed your soul being eclipsed by the God who made it all? What you felt in that moment was joy in who God is.
Joy is also something we exchange as brothers and sisters in Christ, a oneness of heart. We all belong to the same Master, follow the same Book, are filled with the same Spirit. We can experience a moving, connected, wonderful resonance with people we donâ€™t even know; that too is joy.
A supernatural delight in the purposes of God means you know thereâ€™s something bigger going on here, something so far beyond the temporal thatâ€™s unfolding according to Godâ€™s plan. And you can take joy in Godâ€™s purposes.
Only Christ-followers would ever consider trials joy. If life is only about here, now, and your happiness, then trials would make zero sense and be worthless. If all you are living for is the next fifteen minutes, then unfortunately those fifteen minutes of happiness are almost over, and you would have good reason to resent a fly in that ointment. But those of us who are committed to a higher purpose and see this short life in its eternal perspective can get our thinking to a place of joyâ€”no matter what.
Letâ€™s get very practical with this. If you want to quit the pity party and get back on the joy train, then try this method. On four notecards, write the following:
What happened to me? On the first card, write the details of your trial.
Why am I here on earth? On the second card, write the purpose of your life, according to Godâ€™s Word.
How can this trial advance that purpose? On the third card, write what you can do today to advance the purpose of displaying the superiority of a life lived in God.
What resources can I access this moment to help me? On the fourth card, inventory all thatâ€™s available to you as a follower of Christ: the strength and comfort of the Holy Spirit; the Word of God giving you wisdom to direct your path; supportive Christian relationships; the grace of God, which allows you to begin again when you fail. Think through how you can draw down upon those resources as you plow through this trial.
Then keep going over these cards so that Godâ€™s purpose in your life will not be lost. This is a practical exercise to help you consider your trials joy.
Lord God, You specialize in the outrageous. In Your economy, even trials can equal joy, but I need You to train me to accept that radical idea. Teach me what true joy is. Forgive me for chasing fleeting happiness. Help me to have an eternal perspective about how short my life is and what itâ€™s really all about: Your kingdom, Your glory, Your will here on earth, as it is in heaven. Give me today my daily breadâ€”the resources I need to endure the trials Youâ€™ve ordained for me. Thank You that Christ is enough for me, and itâ€™s in His mighty name I pray, amen.
For more from Dr. James MacDonald please visit Walk in the Word on OnePlace.com.