James 1:2-3 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.
James begins his book telling us to consider it pure joy, not simply joy, but PURE joy, when we face trials of many kinds. Was he crazy? How in the world did James expect us to be joyful in the midst of all these trials? Well, he went on to explain that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. Perseverance is defined as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. So when we endure trials, our faith is tested. As our faith is tested, we persist in following Christ and we persist in our faithfulness until the end of time. Yep, I said it! We have to persevere until the end of time.
But how do we find joy while we are persevering through the trials? We must keep our focus on Christ. As our faith in Christ and I relationship with Him grows fonder and deeper, we begin to see the little silver linings in everything. There truly is something good to be found in everyday. Sometimes we have to look a little harder to see the good, but seeking it and find it is always joyful.
A memory of a terrible, awful, horrible week from two years ago came to mind today. During that week, we had some trials! Let me just tell you!! Tuesday, Crystal’s dog Jace ran under Jeff’s Toyota Tundra with 500 lbs of feed in the bed of the truck, and the truck rolled over Jace. Wednesday, Nanny fell and broke her right arm, and she is right handed! Friday, we went to town to get lights for the Christmas float and had a flat tire on my 4 runner as soon as we got to the end of our driveway. We had worked on the float all day, and had lights all over it for the nighttime parade. We left at 3:30 to line up for 3:45 and…no lights…all that work… and no lights! Then Saturday, Jeff had cleaned his smoker. He threw the drip pan contents way down the hill. We went to Nanny’s and came home to a vomit fest! Two of the dogs apparently partook in a fat dropping buffet, and it did not agree with them. So after already sweeping and mopping the whole house that morning, we had to mop pretty much the whole house again! All of these events occurred in five short days, and things like this happen to us here on the farm on a weekly basis. We don’t throw our hands up and quit though. We persevere. Christ shows us the good in every situation and we find joy in the trials.
Trials! I’m telling you that was just about enough to make us want to bury our heads in the sand…BUT…there is always a BUT! I look back at each instance and I can see joy. Jace, a little schnoodle, was run over by a huge heavy truck, BUT he had no injuries other than a slight crack on his hip. No internal injuries. He is still doing great two years later! Nanny fell and broke her humerus, BUT the way she fell, the fractured bone impacted back into place and set itself. She was in a lot of pain, BUT she didn’t have to have surgery! I had a flat on my 4 Runner, BUT it was while Jeff was driving and with me to change it rather than while Nanny and I were in Hattiesburg the day before. The float lights wouldn’t work because it was too much wattage for the inverter, BUT we were able to find an inverter at Love’s 30 minutes before the parade rolled, and we had lights for the parade. We had two sick dogs for one evening, BUT they were perfectly fine the next day and we learned to bury the smoker droppings. Nobody died! We had a few trials that week as we do every week, BUT we persevered. Just as when our faith gets tested…we persevere. As crazy as it sounds, it is pure joy to go through trials. I have joy in my heart because I never have to go through these trials alone and knowing this strengthens my faith! So this Christmas season, don’t focus on the trials. Focus on the joy! Find joy in every situation!