Today I am participating in a Devotional Carnival on the topic of joy, hosted by Rachel Olsen of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Please check out Rachel’s blog and enjoy getting to know her!
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1: 2-4
I am in a place of great discouragement and brokenness, and when I found out that Rachel’s devotional topic for April was joy, I thought, “I cannot write on joy right now because I’m not feeling it.” But then the Lord reminded me that joy is not a feeling, it is a fruit (Galatians 5: 22). Joy is a willful act of choosing. A fruit, like joy, is something that does not just happen. Fruit requires great care and cultivation before it blossoms into something sweet and rewarding.
As my husband and I came together last night for prayer, we read James 1: 2-4, and I wondered “Count it all…what?” Who wants to rejoice in times of various trials? How can I be joyful in the midst of turmoil and discouragement? But knowing the end product of our suffering will be patience, spiritual maturity, and completeness, why not choose joy by sheer obedience? Joy is better than sorrow or a self-pity party!
It is only through trials that our joy can be complete. I do not think we could really know true joy if we did not know suffering. Joy can be greatly celebrated and enjoyed after a period of darkness. In the midst of great trial and tribulation, God brings us to the end of ourselves to where we can only turn to Him for encouragement and guidance. He alone can care for and cultivate our spirits, protecting them, through a tough situation. God allows these trials in our lives, knowing they serve to strengthen us and to drive us into a deeper relationship with Him. This testing serves to refine, renew, and refresh our faith in Him.
In the meantime, I rest knowing that God is in complete control of my life. He has a great plan for me, and I know He is with me. Trials are not something that my human nature welcomes, however, knowing that God is doing a work in my life does comfort me. So I am learning to count it all joy, even when I don’t feel like it. On the other side of this trial, I pray I will be better because of it and lack no good thing! For right now, I do choose the joy of my Lord!