"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." James 1:2 (NLT)
My daughter's journey with scoliosis was a heart-breaking time for me as a mother. There were days I couldn't see past Lauren's extreme physical pain and my wondering heart questioned, why hasn't God healed her yet?
Through those years, I struggled. I felt empty ... void of hope ... void of joy. I knew what God's Word said about joy: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy" (James 1:2 NLT). But in the midst of Lauren's circumstances, her broken heart and wounded body, it was hard to follow that command.
How could I obey this scripture and find joy when someone I loved was in such pain? God graciously answered the cry of my heart by revealing to me these three words ... Jesus Only You.
I noticed the first letter of each of those words spelled J O Y. And it clicked with me. Jesus is our joy!
When God says in James 1:2 to consider trials as opportunities for joy, He's not talking about the joy found in earthly things. Circumstances turning out how we desire, possessions and positions, and even good health only offer happiness. They are temporary. What God longs for us to have is deep, lasting joy found in Jesus.
The King James Version says we are to "count it all joy" when we walk through trials. This word "count" means "evaluate."
When trials come, we must evaluate them in light of God's truths and promises. It's not the trial itself we consider a joy. Rather, it's the results that will come from the trial that we consider pure joy.
This involves trusting that God is actively working for our good even in the midst of painful circumstances. And as we trust Him, we will find an inner gladness rooted not in our circumstances, but in the reality of the living God who transcends our circumstances.
After years of praying, asking God to heal my daughter, He did. It still hurts to remember the excruciating pain Lauren suffered. But God was and is faithful. God didn't heal my girl in the miraculous way I was expecting. Instead, she endured a seven-hour surgery to place two rods in her spine. She missed nearly six weeks of school and labored through months of relearning how to sit and walk and move. She had to quit competitive cheerleading. But in and through that time, God did a new thing.
Looking back, I can see how He held us up, deepened Lauren's faith, and drew our family closer to each other. In real and personal ways, God showed us His tender, loving care. And He taught me the meaning of true J O Y.
Jesus alone is the source of our joy.
When discouragement comes and you feel you cannot take one more step, remember these three words, Jesus Only You!
Jesus came so that I . . . so that you . . . can experience His joy fully and completely in us through any and all circumstances.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus. Thank You for the joy that is ours in Him. Every time our thoughts turn to our hurt, cause our pain to bring us back to J O Y . . . Jesus Only You. We ask this in the Name of Jesus, amen.
Read about how Wendy Blight found joy in her book Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner.
Visit Wendy's blog to enter to win a copy of her book and to sign up for her newest online Bible study on the names of God: Who is God and Why Should I Care? It begins October 30th and runs through December 3rd.
Meet every day with the only One Who brings true joy through reading the NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women, filled with 366 devotions. Pick up your copy by clicking here.
Reflect and Respond:
What does it mean to be filled with the joy of the Lord?
What keeps you from receiving the fullness of His Joy? Memorize and personalize James 1:2 so that you can recall it the next time you walk through a difficult trial and feel the absence of joy.
Galatians 5:22, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness." (NLT)
Nehemiah 8:10b, " Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (NIV)
© 2013 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.