Finding Joy In Tribulation
by Ivoire Morrell
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
When many of us think of joy, we picture events that bring us great delight. We picture graduating from college, getting hitched to the love of our lives, or witnessing the birth of our first child.
We imagine warm summer days with smells of simmering BBQ, Kodak moments at holiday parties, our favorite sports team scoring the game-winning point, or that well-deserved promotion.
We envision purchasing our first home, paying off that final student loan, and the day we said YES to Christ. Joy in these moments comes easily.
We rarely picture life’s challenging moments when we think of joy. Catching a flat tire on the way to work, receiving a failing grade on a final examination, getting fired from your job.
Losing your home from natural disasters or unpaid mortgages, relapsing after being sober for two years, finalizing a divorce after giving marriage your all.
Reliving horrific childhood memories of abuse, getting diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, receiving that phone call that the loved one you had been praying for did not make it.
Listing these hardships, it is easy to understand why joy doesn’t jump to the front of your mind.
Our carnal reactions are anguish, regret, anger, resentment, sadness, despair, and anxiousness.
However, when we view these same challenges with a spiritual sensibility, we find opportunities for spiritual maturation. With God on our side, we can learn to find joy in the midst of our struggles.
The image of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane plays vividly in my mind when focusing on joy in the midst of affliction.
Heart-stricken with sorrow, our sinless savior prepared himself for physical suffering and separation from God through the shame of a sinner’s death on a cross.
Troubled to the point of death, with teardrops trickling from His eyes, Jesus affirmed in prayer with Our Father that His will be done, as He awaited the hour of being delivered into the hands of sinners.
Jesus’ selfless sacrifice on the cross would lead humanity to the restoration of right relationship with God through acceptance of His humble act of obedience.
His atonement on the cross would lead to our triumph over transgressions, give us freedom from sin, and allow us access to the divinity of heaven. His tribulations became our transformation and His wounds became our restoration.
Jesus embraced the difficulties of His destiny and found joy in the fact that you and I would be redeemed through His sacrifice.
We must understand that being Christian does not exempt us from trials and tribulations. We all will suffer, endure painful experiences, and be badgered by barrages of wickedness as we journey throughout life.
By fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, we can strive to view the trials and tribulations in our lives as pure joy. We cannot look at our troublesome circumstances through our limited lense but through God’s virtuous vision!
Instead of complaining about our problems, God wants us to praise Him in our pain!
Instead of worrying about our weaknesses, God wants us to thank Him for His super abounding strength!
When we learn to become resilient to our problems and reliant on God’s sovereign plan, we begin to find joy in our suffering, knowing that our trials are meant to prepare us for the saving of people who are going through the same struggle.
Ivoire Morrell is a Lansing, MI native and a Computer Science graduate from Lawrence Tech University. He currently serves as Youth Pastor at Mosaic Midtown Church located in Detroit, MI.
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