Amen To Joy

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy (James 1:2, NLT).

I believe the greatest psychological statement or dictum ever written was not by Sigmund Freud or Brene Brown but by James, the Lord’s brother.

In the New American Standard Version of James 1:2, it reads, “Consider it all joy . . . when you encounter various trials.” The English Standard Version interprets it as “Count it all joy . . . when you meet various trials.”

We all experience difficult moments and sometimes difficult months leading into difficult years. Two thousand years ago, the book of James says that in spite of what confronts you today, what you encountered yesterday, or what will happen in the future, you can . . . 

Consider it all joy!

Just the possibility of joy in the midst of trials and tragedy, and the idea that through joy, discouragement can be conquered, gives us hope. As James continues . . . 

You know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:3-4, NLT).

We will never live an anxiety-free life. Dr. Daniel Amen (what a great name for someone who believes in joy) writes in his book, You, Happier . . . 

A lot of my patients are surprised when I tell them that having some anxiety is a good thing. So many people are under the false impression that eliminating anxiety is a great goal to shoot for. It isn’t. Having a healthy dose of anxiousness keeps people from getting into trouble.

I say, “Amen!” to this statement. LOL!

Real hope (because there is a lot of false hope and just plain stupid ideas masquerading as hope today) starts with the resurrection of Jesus. If someone can come forth from the dead, overcoming death — which is life’s greatest opponent — then we can find joy in anything.

The book of Hebrews teaches about joy overcoming death with the resurrection of Jesus . . . 

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne (Hebrews 12:2).

Biblical joy doesn’t dismiss difficult moments, but it does give an eternal perspective of faithfulness that shines like the proverbial light at the end of a tunnel. In my moments of despair, actually seeing a light, however small, allows me to walk forward.

Realizing that joy isn’t problems totally solved or gone, that we will always have trials, but that the sum total of our life’s difficulties is covered by the blood of Jesus, we have a light to walk towards.

Joy is found in current praise about our future victory. We lose joy when we lose hope. We find joy both now and in eternity because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Amen! (There I go again. Sorry, Dr. Daniel Amen.)

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