#2 – The Wisdom of Suffering [James 1:1-18]: JOY!

I love James. He says to consider it a “JOY” when encountering trials, difficulty, or even temptations. Lets look at what the concept of Joy actually entails from the Random House Dictionary:

  1. The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
  2. A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.
  3. The expression or display of glad feelings; festive gaiety.
  4. A state of happiness or felicity.

I must say, only in the Bible have I ever come across the concept of seeing suffering as something “exceptionally good and satisfying.” Something that gives “pleasure” and “delight.” Generally, things I associate with pleasure are things that actually “feel” nice. Like drinking a cup of tea, having a warm bath, or eating a scrumptious meal. But to be honest, through all the trials that I’ve been through, I have never felt feelings of pleasure or elation. It did not feel “festive.” Anything but in fact. It felt tough, and at times very painful, confusing and other feelings that can only be described by little stars ****.

Granted though, James does not say to “Feel” Joy, but to “Consider” it a Joy. Which means that its more of a mental approach to trial than an emotional one. I think its like climbing a mountain. It is extremely tough and even painful, but you climb with a sense of real joy, because you know that you are conquering something great. You are enduring the difficulty because of the prize that awaits at the summit. So you consider the process a joy. You look at it from a different perspective. You climb with the top in mind. You lead your emotions with your mind. The future glory of reaching the top determining your current state. It’s like living in the tension between the now and the not yet. And I believe that it is in that place that endurance is formed. And it is that which the Lord desires to develop in us. But more on that soon.

Lord, may we truly understand the meaning of suffering, seeing it from your perspective rather than based on how it feels. May we be filled with wisdom and truly become mature in our thinking and walking. May we realise that all of life is designed for us to get to know you better, and consider suffering more of a joyful trip up a mountain with you, than anything else our feelings would tell us. Amen.