During Advent we will be focusing on the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love that Jesus brings when He “arrives” in our life. Each week we will have a devotion from someone in our church body to help encourage you along the way. This week’s devotion is written by Megan Marshall. You can find the devotions on the blog on our website, in the newsletter, and on our Facebook page.
”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.”
When I was thinking about the topic of joy for this devotional, I kept remembering this passage. One that has been a mantra for me since meditating on it…..Consider it ALL joy. Different translations use the words consider, count, esteem. This is the first command James gives in his epistle to the tribes scattered among different nations facing trials of various kinds.
The first thing James tells us to do regarding trials of any kind is to consider them as joy or something good. I was running through all the different ways we use the word consider, i.e….consider someone for a job, consider an idea, consider it best. To consider is to think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.
James is intentional in the wording he uses here when talking about trials. He tells us exactly what we should do when we face them. Despite the season of life we are in, the good and the bad, are we taking time to consider the work that God is doing in our life and COUNTING it as joy?
Does a mother consider the pain of childbirth and forget the joy of the child? Even a woman who has never had a child or even known the joy of motherhood herself, doesn’t lose her joy in the midst of pain. Why? Because she has faith in the good that is to come. How does she know this good that is to come? She has SEEN for herself the goodness found in the relationship between a mother and a child. Does an athlete consider the pain of training and forget the joy of victory? We know the saying, “pain is gain.” The athlete considers the pain he/she will face throughout their training. And they’re able to endure with steadfastness in order to reach the goal. These two examples quickly came to my mind when thinking of joy and pain and how the two can simultaneously live together. Of course we understand these, but it sure does feel more difficult when we think about life circumstances.
But Jesus is our greatest example. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was able to endure the cross BECAUSE OF the joy set before Him (12:2). He considered the trials He was facing. He thought carefully about what God was doing. And He counted it as JOY.
So what do we do when we’re facing trials?
- Ask God what He’s doing. Think carefully about the season you’ve found yourself in. Ask Him to show you how the current trial you are facing can possibly bring joy. He will show you.
- Remember the good works that He has already done. Look at God’s track record. The act of remembering produces in us faith that what He is doing IS good.
James commands this and he also gives us a promise to follow. When we think carefully about what God is doing and have faith that it’s good for us, God will give us steadfastness. He will give us what we need to endure these trials. And this steadfastness will make us “complete” or “lacking nothing.” Essentially, God will make us more LIKE HIM! And I know for myself what a joy that is to experience in this life.
So as we continue to look forward in this advent season, CONSIDER IT ALL AS JOY!