Faith Baptist Church of State College, Pennsylvania

Finding Joy

Ah, spring is almost upon us here in State College. Isn’t spring a joyful time of year? We are eagerly anticipating a change in the seasons, especially after all of the snow that we had this year. The hush of newly fallen snow will soon burst into the songs of returning birds. The dark of winter will soon grow into invigoratingly bright days. The barren landscape will soon blossom into color. Death will be resurrected to life. I enjoy winter, but even I am looking forward to shedding my winter coat this year! How strange it is that something as wonderful as spring could be such a trial in my life. Every year, just as I am really starting to enjoy spring, wham! It hits me. I start sneezing, rubbing my itchy and watery eyes, and carrying an inhaler to stop wheezing. Spring allergies destroy the enjoyment of spring for millions of people.

How strange it is that once we also start to really enjoy the Christian life, trials come and destroy our enjoyment. As James penned his letter to the Jews, this idea was on his mind as well. Within his first few sentences, James shocks his persecuted and troubled brothers by writing the now famous verse: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” How in the world is this possible, James? Trials usually only lead us to grumbling, complaining, and begging for the trial to pass. They are certainly not fun and often hurt too much to bring joy! But, James does not leave us with a cliffhanger. He teaches us how we can have joy in our trials in verses 3 and 4.

3) Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4) But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James shows us that the key to being able to have joy within trials depends on our outlook and goal of life. Since trials are a testing of your faith, and since that testing produces endurance, and since that endurance produces maturity in your Christian life, we should want trials! However, if the goal of your life is simply to enjoy life for yourself, you will not find joy in trials, no matter how much you study James 1. Your mindset during the trial will be, “Get me out of here!” But, if your heart beats to serve Jesus Christ, you will understand the goal of your Master in bringing these problems into your life. You will understand that the trials are for your best interest and growth, and you will find joy in them. Obviously, dealing with trials and heartaches cannot be diluted to clichés. But, if we cling to the Lord through prayer and stay focused on His motives, we can have that joy during trials that is spoken of by saints who have experienced much worse than us.

In Christ,
Pastor Nick