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. James 1:2-4
It’s hard to smile when we are in the middle of something difficult and painful. It’s much easier to whine, pout, and complain. Yet the Bible tells us to consider our trials as PURE JOY. As much as having joy is a pendulum’s swing in a suffering person’s emotional spectrum, it is possible to have joy in the midst of pain.
I like looking at the example of Jesus when it comes to joy. Hebrews 12:2 says, “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The cross was a difficult trial for Jesus; one where He even asked God to take away His cup of suffering (Luke 2:42). Yet Jesus submitted His will and said, “Not my will but yours be done.” The Father knew the trial was difficult, but He did not take it away.
What made Jesus endure the difficult, painful trial? The answer lies in this: He looked at the outcome. There was a joy set before Him. There was a reward for Him that would come if He endured the cross. The reward or joy was His inheritance: brothers and sisters who would be reconciled to the Father. The outcome sustained Him.
There is also an outcome for us when we go through trials or tests. If we go back to James 1, it says that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. The working of this perseverance allows us to be mature and complete. This is our outcome: a maturity; a completion in character.
We have to understand that our Father in Heaven is relentless in His pursuit of us: His children and His children’s character. The Bible says in Romans 8:29: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Our transformation to becoming Christlike is God’s desire. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Therefore, when we go through trials and tests, let’s try this: let’s focus on the outcome. Let’s look beyond our pain to see the joy set before us. What is God building in us? What kind of strength is God forming in our character? Does our test have to dictate our mood? Can we consider our tests as JOY? Are we becoming more like Jesus? There is joy in trials as we become more like Christ.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.