James 1:2-4 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
One of Compassion International main priorities is releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Their work revolves around kids, so you better believe that they keep laughing! The kids in the program around the world write to their sponsors and they often hear from sponsors about the funny things kids say in their letters.
Kids in the Compassion program are growing up in poverty. By the world’s standards, they have every right to be angry at their situation. Quite the opposite is true though! These children are a great example of what it means to have joy despite their circumstances.
In today’s verses, we learn that joy is an essential part of walking through trials. How is this possible? How can we have joy in the midst of illness, financial hardship and other painful circumstances?
First, we see that the joy provided by God’s Spirit is different from the joy of the world. Worldly joy isn’t something you can cling to when your world is falling apart. In contrast, the joy God offers is available in a never-ending supply. It will never run out and it can never be taken away. John 15:11 says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Second, this joy is a free gift! It is offered to us as a lifeline and we can reach out and grab onto it. We can either choose bitterness and anger or we can decide to express joy. First Thessalonians 5:16 reminds us, “Rejoice always.”
We can choose joy… no matter what comes our way.
Dear Lord, we thank You again for the joy we can have in You. Help us to always live in that joy and to share it with those around us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.