The NIV translation of James 1:2 says:
“Consider it pure joy,
my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds…”
I love this verse. Abby shared it in her post this week about how loneliness can be a blessing. She describes a lonely season in her life and how, through it, she found joy in growing closer to the Lord.
An often cited verse, the contrast and command of this verse is striking. Joy and trial are tied together as a directive. When life is hard- consider it a joy. For Abby, this meant her struggle with loneliness was to be counted joyful.
It just seems so backwards, doesn’t it? Almost like Scripture says “deny and defy reality. Things stink. But you can be happy anyway.”
Fortunately, that’s not what God calls us to.
Notice the word “pure” in front of joy? It isn’t there in every translation. However, it’s inclusion in the NIV is probably because of what it notes about the particular type of joy we are called to in our trials.
The transliterated word is “chara.”
This type of joy is defined as:
“properly, the awareness (of God’s) grace, favor; joy (grace recognized).”
What we’re called to here is recognizing God’s grace in our trials. These Greek words for grace and joy are even cognates (cousins!) These words are bound together by the blood of Christ.
Joy in our trials isn’t about putting on a happy face for others’ sakes or forcing yourself to feel differently than you really do. Pure joy, chara, is about looking to Christ and recognizing His grace in even the worst of trials, the muck of sin, and the painful consequences of living in this fallen world. Joy is the natural perspective that comes with this recognition.
It doesn’t always bring a smile to a tear-soaked face. Joy rarely changes or ends the trial.
But joy can point you to the glimmer of light in the darkness, enabling you to fix your eyes on the truth.
Joy can make the choice to continue on count for something even while the weights are stacked heavily against you.
The joy of God’s grace is enough to bring us through those trials where you see His grace (sometimes where you see it most!)
Consider His grace. Recognize it. Joy will come!
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