Journey of Joy
How many of us would like to possess pure joy that nobody and nothing could take away from us? All of us, of course. But how do we get there from here? It’s easy to experience a kind of emotional, transient joy— being happy for a short time— but we return all too swiftly to our former state, with all its anxieties and cares. How do we receive and maintain the kind of biblical joy that remains constant, transcending the cares of life?
In the verses above, James points to a process that has to take place in our lives. Inevitably, the trials of life come upon us. How we react is very important. If we hold an eternal perspective, then we can respond to a trial with joy. Are we in denial? Being unrealistic or super-spiritual? No, because James says when our faith is tested it is stretched and it grows. It builds into our faith the glue of endurance. Over time, trials toughen up our faith. They cause our faith to mature. This leads to completion— the essence of the joy that cannot be overcome by trouble.
We would learn very little if everything in life fell into place without challenge or difficulty. In terms of faith, we would be spiritual weaklings. Just as athletes “test” their bodies over and over again in order to build endurance and, therefore, be able to perform at their best, our faith must be tested so we can become mature soldiers for Jesus who are able to endure and continue to persevere, with reckless devotion, in all He sets before us.