Opportunity for Joy

Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.”  James 1:2 NLT

The life, or faith, that never meets resistance never develops strength.

My thoughts and comments today are about an “opportunity for joy.”

As long as there is life, there will be times that try your faith; you can neither avoid nor escape them. You must face them, be faithful in them, and learn from them. “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.” James 1:2 NLT. Really? Trouble as “an opportunity for joy” definitely seems counter-intuitive, but look beyond the obvious.

Before you dilute God’s truth with your view of reality, let James elaborate. “For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:3-4 NLT. The life, or faith, that never meets resistance never develops strength and personal conviction of truth. Trouble is an “opportunity for joy.” Physical resistance is what develops natural strength; resistance in your spiritual life develops strength the Bible calls faith.

God’s objective for your spiritual life is to preserve you in and through trying times, not to protect you from them. During those challenging times you will learn more about God than you ever knew before. And you will learn more about yourself, discovering strength where you thought you were weak, and maybe weakness where you thought you were strong. You will find God’s faithfulness unfailing, His provision sufficient, and His Word to be sure counsel for every circumstance.

James, the brother of Jesus, was not advocating that you be glad because you have troubles. That would be quite unreasonable. James’ advice is this: beyond the difficulty of the moment, see the unfolding purpose of God and rejoice in anticipation of the good that will come however trying and unlikely it may presently seem.

The Bible offers broad teaching from multiple voices to support this truth. “Therefore we do not lose heart . . for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory . . for the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 NKJV. See Romans 8:18 NIV.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 NKJV. What is on trial? Your faith is on trial that it may be proven to be real. Trying times may have come to destroy your faith but can strengthen your faith and prove its sincerity and tenacity instead.

When Paul faced a severe trial of his faith, he realized the very real effect, “that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV. Beyond your problems, you can find the power and faithfulness of a great God. Now that is a true “opportunity for joy.”

My prayer for you today is that your faith will be equal to your trial.