Tuesday, March 31
Feeling the Joy?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds …" (James 1:2). Are you feeling the joy yet? If not, you are not alone. This is one of those Words from God that often reminds us we are not yet where we need to be in relation to God and to life. Yet we may not realize how often this Word already has proven true in our past experiences, particularly when we think about the reasoning behind it: “Consider it pure joy … because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Anyone who has advanced in education knows about tests. Some may have been easy. Some may have been hard. But they all taught the greater lesson of being prepared and learning how to learn. We moved from simple problems to more complex ones, and we rejoiced in the milestones of achievement. God’s will for us is that we become the best possible version of ourselves, and there is no way for it to happen without some tests along the way. When it’s our faith that is being tested, however, we find that fear and uncertainty has filled the gaps in our faith. But we stop looking at our own insufficiency. Our strength and hope is not in ourselves, it is in God.
And, sometimes, the most practical solution to our fear is to suffer the very thing we have been afraid of. Once we have persevered through it, we no longer fear it. We can look back and see that God was with us the whole way through. God made an unbreakable bond with us through the blood of his Son, which is the essential joy. Nothing can take it away. Pause, then, to remember the faith tests of your past, and the surpassing faithfulness of your Savior, and consider how the “joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10), even in the present trials.
Dear heavenly Father, in baptism you have given us new birth and forever look upon us with your pleasure, for you are pleased to see already how glorious we shall be when we behold you face to face. Grant me today another foretaste of the joy that you have set before me. May it be my strength as I persevere through the sometimes painful process of transformation to become like your Son, Christ Jesus. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit. Amen.