Pure Joy? Really? Yes!!

James 1:2-4 “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.”

God has been calling me to a life of joy recently. He keeps bringing it up. The word has come up many times over the past few months under many different circumstances, but always as a message of the kind of life He has for me and the person he wants me to be.

Another message that I seem to hear repeated lately is “tension”. The idea that life is going to have tension built into it. It can’t be escaped. It can’t be willed away. It can’t be ignored. It can’t be prayed away. Everyone must deal with it on some level.

I’ve also been searching out a stronger faith. I have point blank asked God to increase my faith. I want to believe Him, not just in Him. Some days all I’m asking for is a mustard seed faith because even that seems hard to find. He’s not about to break his promises or go back on his word, but I admit, I don’t always believe that. I want to!

Until I read this verse last night, it had not occurred to me that all of these things go together. His messages to me and my request of him. I had been considering them to be separate and apart from each other. I had considered one to be about my emotions and personality, one to be about my circumstances and the other to be about my relationship with Him. Helloooo! Can’t really separate those things!

I don’t like tension. I don’t like it when my girls fight with each other. I don’t like it when I see friendships falling apart and I am powerless to stop it. I don’t like it when people disagree on how to worship or how to spend money. I don’t like watching someone dealing with a lifetime of hurt who can’t seem to find a way past or through it. I don’t like knowing that in many situations, I have absolutely no authority or power to do anything to help and I know the person needing help can’t or won’t fight the fight only they and God can battle.

This weekend my dad reminded me of the serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” One of my peeps shared the rest of that prayer with me recently, “Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as a pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.”

It is not easy to find joy in the midst of pain. It is not easy to be joyful when there is tension seemingly everywhere you turn. But that is what I am called to do and not just a little bit. Pure Joy! I looked up the definition of joy and the last one stood out to me, “having exactly the talents or skills needed for a particular role”.

He has given me all I will need to be joyful in whatever tension he allows me to be in and will answer my prayers for a stronger faith. He promises! It’s in his word and he can’t go back on that.

So, today, I will be thankful for tension…it produces faith.

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