Monday, March 21, 2005

Where is the Joy?

It is a very good thing that James 1:2 tells us to be joyful during trials, because without this revelation it is unlikely that we would think of trials as an opportunity for joy. I will confess that joy is not my natural response to trials, and I am probably not the only one who has trouble finding joy while suffering. As a fellow sojourner on the way of holiness, I offer some truths about joy that I struggle to apply when trouble comes my way.

Joy is a response, not an invention. It is useless, unhealthy, and dishonest to conjure up joy when it is not there. God wants us to be joyful, but He demands that we be honest with Him and others. (Exodus 20:3-6,16).

Joy flows from faith. A lack of joy is a symptom of weak faith in God. James 1:3-4 says that joy is based in the knowledge that God will use the trial to perfect us. If we don't believe that God loves and cares for us, then joy is an impossibility.

So the question is not, "How do we strengthen our joy?" but, "How do we strengthen our faith in an all-powerful and all-loving God?" The answer is not complicated, but it also may not be easy. We need to:
1. Pray and confess our need for God. (Hebrews 10:22)
2. Read the Bible. (Hebrews 10:23)
3. Hang around believers who have a genuine faith in a loving and Holy God. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Joy is the goal, holiness is the way.


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