Have you ever thought to yourself, how can anyone possibly experience joy while going through difficult times? Whether it be tragedy, job loss, relationship issues or physical pain, it is possible to experience the joy of the Lord amidst troubling times. In James 1:2 we read, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” (NLT). Does this verse appear to contradict itself? How can we consider it great joy and all joy when we encounter various trials? Trials are things God uses to put our faith into effect and cause us to trust in what His word says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5). We will see that it is God’s word power, the true knowledge of God, which transforms our daily stress into daily joy.
James 1:3 says, “For you know that when your faith is tested (put to use), your endurance has a chance to grow.” (NLT). Many things in life—such as losing our job, and not seeing a new one in sight; living with an unsaved spouse; or the rejection of one of our kids—are beyond our control and test (put to use) our faith. And God’s word in Philippians 4:19 reminds us “God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”; and Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.” Things beyond our control bring us to the point of trusting God, and believing that what His word says is true. “Whatever is true . . . dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
We can rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him to accomplish His purpose in us regarding anything and everything that troubles us. David wrote in Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; your loving-kindness, O Lord, is everlasting.” Look at Psalm 37:7: “Rest in the Lord (as a lifestyle) and wait patiently for Him (to accomplish His purpose in regard to what is troubling us).” Our confidence in this truth grows as we experience (His) joy in the midst of our trials. As our trials bring us to the end of ourselves, we find ourselves trusting that the Lord will accomplish what concerns us, we rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Do you see how our endurance and perseverance grow from the truth, power and encouragement of God’s word? “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1 (NLT).