James 1:2-4 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The question of character has come up a lot in recent years, especially where it concerns our national leaders. But have you ever taken a good, hard look at your own character? Have you ever thought about what it takes to develop that thing - we call character? Have you ever considered what it means to be "mature and complete, not lacking anything?"
When James makes this statement, he doesn't say "if" you face trials. he says "whenever" you face trials. Trials - problems, crises, tragedies - will occur in our lives. So, is he saying that we have to walk around with a silly grin on our faces and fake happiness when we're in the middle of the most difficult thing we've ever faced? No. This is when the difference between "happiness" and "joy" becomes most evident. "Happiness" is that which we have when everything in our lives is going smoothly - when the world is functioning around us just as we would. But happiness is fleeting. It rarely lasts, in entirety, for more than a day or so. Because something - large or small - is going to come along to mess up that feeling of happiness.
Joy, on the other hand, can be with us even in the midst of tragedy. Because joy comes from having total faith in Jesus. from knowing that God's hand is directly on the situation in which we find ourselves. from the depth of our knowledge that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose," (Romans 8:28 NIV). from being so centered on our Lord that nothing, absolutely nothing, can interfere with the peace, hope and joy we find in Him. and from our desire to learn and to grow as a result of the tests and trials that He allows to come our way.
What kind of character are you allowing the Lord to build in you? The kind that is constantly searching for "happiness". or the kind that is filled with His eternal joy?
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