19th March 2011

Facing Trials With Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds,
James 1:2 (NIV UK)

This is a difficult scripture to accept.

How can facing trials and going through them be counted as pure joy? What was James, the brother of Christ, talking about? He goes on to explain that such experiences develop our ability to cope better spiritually, and that we develop grace-filled perseverance as a result. The thought is to look at trials as opportunities, not as setbacks.

Early Christians faced relentless persecutions under some of the Roman emperors. Some were deprived of food and water, and then tortured in horrific ways before being killed for their faith in Christ. Historical accounts note that, when some believers faced their death, they were “hilares”, Latin meaning “joyful”. The implication is that they smiled in the face of martyrdom, maybe even laughed. It is evocative of the words of Bildad to Job about how in the face of adversity God “will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:21)

Various texts suggest that the believers of that time were often referred to as “hilares”—the “joyful ones”. It goes against the image that many have of Christians today. The image is that of the serious, sullen-faced Christian who is bristling in disapproval of others around him or her.

Jesus endured his great trial on the cross “for the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2), thus setting an example for us. Whatever terrible thing is happening in our life there is something greater ahead for us. Joy involves the reassurance and comfort of our God’s certain promises, and the excitement of knowing Jesus Christ.

When trials come your way, face them with the inner joy that we have in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for the joy of knowing your Son, Jesus Christ, and help that joy comfort me through the difficult times in life
Amen

Study by James Henderson

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