This past weekend was one of the biggest rollercoasters of emotion I have ever been on. I attended a funeral, a wedding, and a going away party in the span of two days. Not a typical weekend for me as I’m sure you can imagine. I went to the funeral of one of my friends who I have known ever since I attended that first small group that changed my life (See previous weeks post). It was unexpected and devastating to hear, the kind of thing you never think would happen to someone close to you. It didn’t feel real when I found out, but it was. On Saturday morning, I went to the church of the funeral with my brother-in-law, and said a final goodbye to a dear friend. About an hour and a half later, I was sitting in my home church for a completely different reason. Two people who are close to myself and my family, Becky and Jeremy who are basically a part of our family, were celebrating their marriage through a beautiful ceremony. Weddings are such a beautiful picture of commitment and how Christ laid down his life for the people he loves. It was such a great time. The next afternoon I went to a surprise going away party for another close friend who I have known ever since I can remember. My friend Ben is going into the Marines and his family set-up this surprise to show how much he is loved and how much his friends and family are supporting him in prayer. Three events, two days, and one big rollercoaster of emotions.
It’s easy to be joyful during the wedding of two of my friends and to be joyful about the places another is headed, but what about the lowest times in our lives? I have been struggling with this idea and wanted to know how I can find joy, no matter how hard the situation is. I began to read James 1:2-4 which says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” A few verses later, James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” I think these verses really outline how to possess joy in every situation, good or bad, that we walk in each day.
You will face trials.
Really encouraging statement right? As much as I’d like to believe that everything will be good all the time, the reality of it is, life gets hard. We face addiction, anger, loss, and a multitude of other struggles all the time. This stems from the fact that we live in a fallen world, but there is hope. The first part of the verse in James says to consider it pure joy when we face the hard stuff in life, because it will grow us. That’s my own paraphrase version, and it’s true. The scripture doesn’t try to dance around the truth, it simply says that we will struggle, people will say things to hurt you, you will fight against temptations, but this will lead to perseverance. Essentially, finding joy during the trials that we will all inevitably face, will make you stronger and build your faith even more.
You must be patient in the growth.
Having joy in all things will take time. We can’t speed through the growing process that the persevering brings. I want to have full joy in every situation, but I can’t expect to have this ability in an instant. The second chunk of that verse says that we must let this process finish if we want to be fully mature and not missing anything. I don’t like this concept because I want everything right away all the time, that’s basically how we have all been told to live through society. But in order to grow spiritually and have joy during hardship, we must be patient. The only way we grow, is if we are continually striving for more and spending our time reading and meditating on Christ’s word. Joy takes time because growing our faith takes time, but the reward is so much better than we can imagine.
You will be blessed when you persevere.
As we choose to say I will have joy in this situation, this brings praise to Christ and he blesses our perseverance. We face trials and grow our faith, and Christ gives us so much more than we could have ever imagined. He gives us a testimony to help others. He gives us wisdom to walk through future situations that we find ourselves in. He gives the leadership knowledge to be effective and show others the way. As we follow Christ, we are able to find life and live out its’ full potential. We were made to praise and worship our Savior, and through the perseverance of all trials, we can bring honor to his name. Does this mean life gets easy, no, what it means is that we get stronger and more equipped to take on future trials that will arise.
This past weekend was like being on a Ferris wheel, experiencing the great lows and the great highs that life presents us with. I will take the highs as a blessing and cherish the friends and memories past and present, being joyful in them. I also choose to have joy in the lows, seeing them as a growing part of my life that will give me a strong testimony. I will remember the times spent with my friend and brother Seth seeing them as a blessing, just as I will remember the day Becky and Jeremy became one, and the celebration of Ben pursuing his dreams in life. I choose to find joy in all situations, no matter how high or how low. I choose joy.