“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:2-3)
Carrying a child and giving birth involves a lot of unpleasantness and pain. Morning sickness and nausea. Back aches and fatigue. Roller-coaster hormone fluctuations. Not to mention the pain involved in labor and giving birth. Yet, despite the pain and discomfort, women often refer to pregnancy and childbirth as a joyous occasion. Why? It’s joyous because the pain is temporary, and they know that in the end, they will greet their newborn, beloved son or daughter.
An expectant mother looks past the negative in the struggle and sees the positive result at the end. In the same way, we don’t experience joy only when everything is going our way. We can be filled with joy through the difficulties, through the pain, and through the struggles, because we anticipate a positive result at the end.
Biblical joy is choosing to respond to external circumstances with inner contentment and satisfaction because we know God will use these circumstances for our good and for his glory.
That’s why James says that troubles are an opportunity for joy for Christians because troubles strengthen our character and enable us to better serve God. Because we know God works everything for our good, we can be joyful and content in every circumstance of our life, because we are certain of a positive outcome from every difficulty we face.
Biblical joy is not the same as happiness. It’s not the result of success or circumstances—it’s so much more! Joy is a supernatural fruit produced in the lives of those who follow Jesus.
Joy gives us strength. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “…Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
Interestingly, negative emotions such as anger, fear, and hopelessness are associated with many health issues, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, and infections. On the other side of the spectrum, positive emotions such as gratitude, contentment, and expectation of a good outcome result in longer, healthier lives. The joy of the Lord brings contentment and optimism. Joy strengthens our spirit and our body.
In every situation, we make a choice. Will we choose worry? Will we choose resentment? Will we choose fear? Or will we choose to look beyond our current circumstances and focus on the faithfulness of our heavenly father? Joy is a choice. Choose joy.
Heavenly father, I know you are the source of joy. Thank you for giving me access to a supernatural joy that transcends my circumstances. Fill me to overflowing with joyful, calm contentment, knowing that every moment of my life is covered in your unfailing love and guarded with your unsurpassed wisdom. I know joy is a choice. Help me choose joy. In Jesus’s name, amen.