“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” — James 1:2 (NLT)
Not many of us look forward to the idea of facing hard times and trials. But James tells us to consider trials “an opportunity for joy” (see verse above).
Opportunity is defined as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. An opportunity, to me, means I have a choice to consider. I have an opportunity to go a Vikings game or go fishing with my son. An opportunity is a door to either walk through or close after careful consideration. Consideration and opportunity are married together.
What brings you joy? True, deep-felt joy? More importantly, does joy have a permanent home in your life, or is it an occasional replacement word for “happiness”? Let me be clear, a Three Musketeers candy bar brings me much happiness. But knowing that quick delight means I’ll need to run an extra mile to burn it off does not cause me joy. That’s where we need to separate happiness (temporal) from joy (permanent). While they certainly can be combined, they are not necessarily always tied together.
So in the midst of heartache, we can choose joy. In the midst of grief, we can choose joy. In the midst of depression, we can choose joy. In the midst of family and personal struggles, we can choose joy.
You see, if joy were only wrapped up in happiness — in success and good fortune — then we would be sunk. All of us have times in our lives, maybe even now, that do not bring us happiness. If we look at joy as more of an attribute, as opposed to a feeling or emotion, we have the opportunity to experience it no matter the situation we are facing.
Kay Warren (pastor Rick Warren’s wife) puts it this way: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
Depression, discouragement and anxiety are at an all-time high according to mental health experts. My prayer for you is that joy will be present in your daily life, and that you will consider all the events of life an opportunity for joy. Know that the God of this universe loves you and walks alongside you each and every step of the way.
— Matt Hill
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