September 04, 2009

Consider It Pure Joy?

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds …
James 1:2


Some things are easier said than done.

How is it possible to consider it joy when you’ve lost someone you love, or you’ve just been told that cancer is destroying your body? How can it be “pure joy” when you go through life with a disability that will not go away? Where is the joy when you lose your job, your home, or your business? How can you feel any joy when old age makes it almost impossible to enjoy much of anything?

Doesn’t James understand? Is he so far removed from life that he has no idea what the early Christians were experiencing?

Sometimes we talk without realizing what someone is going through. Years ago I told someone who was about to have surgery that she should turn it over to the Lord. She said, “You don’t know how I feel. You’re sitting on that chair, but I’m the one in bed facing surgery.”

Is that how James approaches the suffering of others?

No. James understood. He knew what it was like to be persecuted and what it meant to face suffering for the Lord Jesus. James also knew that God sometimes uses trials and challenges in our lives because he wants us to grow in faith. Trials can help us mature in our faith. James wants us to rejoice in this fact, knowing we can trust God always?even in troubling times.

Father, it can be hard for us to rejoice when bad things happen in our lives. But help us to trust you in wisdom, knowing we can grow closer to you no matter what happens. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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