James 1: 2-4, "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."
Do you think there is a difference between happiness and joy? I believe there is. Happiness is dependent on circumstances, but joy is inward and is not disturbed by one’s environment. Happiness comes and goes, but my joy is constant. Why? Because my joy is found in God and He never changes. "Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Joy is my gift from God. "Only when you seek the things of Christ can you find abiding joy."
Some truths from these verses:
- 'Consider it pure joy'..... we must think about our trials as specific to each of us and how God is using those trials to draw us near to Him. He knows our weaknesses and how to best get us to rely on Him, not ourselves.
- Not if but 'whenever you face trials of many kinds'... we will all have trouble in this world. My trials may be different than yours but that doesn't make mine any more or less important to God.
- 'The testing of your faith produces perseverance'... the devil uses our troubles and afflictions to test our faith by tempting us to sin and keep us from our Christian duties. Our faith is being tested, not the strength of our bodies. "We must not sink into a sad and unhappy frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must strive to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it."
- 'Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."... we must be patient in our trials and afflictions. Romans 12:12 "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Our troubles in this world our temporary but God doesn't want us to just get through them. He wants us to thrive, with a dependence on Him. "When we bear all that God appoints, and as long as he appoints, and with a humble obedient eye to him, and when we not only bear troubles, but rejoice in them, then patience hath its perfect work. "
As for myself, of course I'm not happy all the time but I decided a long time ago not to let anyone or anything steal my joy. It's a mindset to know that God is with me, no matter the struggle, the pain, or the hardship I face. "I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be, but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see." My desire is to please God, not people. You may see my wheelchair or my mask as struggle symbols, but they are blessings to me that allow me to go and be out in this world.
My hope and prayer for others is that the world's opinion of them will be minuscule compared to what they desire to be in God's eyes. That their trials will make their faith stronger and patience will abide with them as God works through them.