Life is full of surprises. Some good, some not-so-good.
A surprise visit from your out-of-town best friend? Good surprise. A surprise twenty-dollar bill in your back pocket? Good surprise. A surprise pregnancy after years of trying? Good surprise.
But the not-so-good surprises can also take your breath away.
A child who painted a beautiful picture on your bedroom wall—with hot pink fingernail polish. A flat tire on your way to something important. An unexpected payment. An injury in the prime of your training. A heart-wrenching phone call that flips “life as you know it” on its head. A lost job, a betrayal, a terminal diagnosis.
We are all in a constant state of reacting to our surroundings, whether that be traffic or a tantrum-throwing toddler. We laugh, we cry, we yell, we go silent.
There’s a particularly interesting verse that always causes me to scratch my head.
“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.” (James 1:2-4)
I would better understand if it said, “Consider it a challenge…” A pain. A train wreck. A refining season. Maybe even an opportunity. But PURE JOY?
Sorry, James—half brother of Jesus. You might be related to the Son of God, but you seem to be missing a few screws. Oh, He told you to say that? Well then. Guess I will shut my mouth.
So what does this culturally unpopular perspective mean for those of us who follow Jesus? In a nutshell, our contentment isn’t determined by stuff or circumstance, but by Him alone. The nonstop outpouring of Himself and His never-ending resources allows us to continually experience pure joy—the kind that’s literally out of this world.
- You’re changing a million diapers.
- The doctor calls with news.
- You’re overwhelmed and out of time.
- Someone breaks your heart.
- You’re mocked for your faith.
- You’re stretched beyond your boundaries.
- You’re given some difficult feedback.
- You’re walking through a valley.
- You’re stuck in the “in-between” time.
- You’re praying and praying and praying and waiting.
- You’re the target of gossip.
- You’re misunderstood.
- You lose someone you love.
- You simply lack the strength.
- You fight back tears.
- You surrender it all.
Consider it pure joy.
Because a tested faith is a trusted faith; one that endures the not-so-good surprises.