“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-4
Sounds insensitive doesn it?
I thought so too.
Each morning as I’ve been combing through scriptures and sermons, all I hear is the word, ‘Joy,” and it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel natural, it doesn't even feel good at this point. How in earth can I be joyful in a time like this.
But it’s all I hear.
As I’m going through Phillipians, Paul is writing to his congregation from a jail cell. I don’t know all of the context, but I know he’s been there for a while, and I know it’s not like the prisons we have today. Think cave, wet, minimal food, if any, and guards with no expectations to keep you alive.
And all he can talk about is joy.
I kind of feel like I’m in a jail cell lately, this is not a difficult metaphor to relate too. The last public place I was in was 15 days ago. I go to the grocery store every 10 days, and that’s about it. You’re probably sitting in the same boat.
It’s hard to find joy in these circumstances, and yet sitting from a true prison, it’s all Paul has.
Paul doesn’t have Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, he doesn’t have books, podcasts, a family, puzzles, board games, food, a pet, he has nothing.
So why joy? Why am I even opening this can of worms?
Because Joy is an act of resistance.
Gratitude is an act of resistance.
Anxiety, fear, anger, they are all valid, but they will get you nowhere, especially in times like these.
So I say again,
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
Because in joy, we find the peace and presence of God
“Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus giving thanks through him to God the father. Colossians 3:19
Or maybe here is one you’ve heard before. “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything,”
Here’s the part that always gets overlooked.
“Tell God what you need, and THANK him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6
Joy and gratitude as resistance is NOT an act of indifference. Or ignorance. Or just plain insanity.
Instead, you mix the three of them together. That’s right. Anxiety, Joy and Gratitude all sit hand and hand.
Anxiety is a kind of grasping for control of what we do not have in the future. Gratitude is giving thanks for what we do have in the present.
Read it again.
We are not in control of any of this. We must stop creating outcomes we have no control over.
All we know is that today we are okay.
So joy and gratitude as resistance puts you in the present. Because today we are not in prison.
We are in our homes. We are hopefully warm and dry. Currently, I’m sitting next to my husband. Today I plan on starting a new book. Maybe we will cook something together. My dog Koda and I took a lovely walk in the early Saturday morning gloom. And for today that’s enough.
And tomorrow it will be enough again.
So fellow readers, I will leave you with this.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10”
Consider it joy, and watch the narrative change.
To express, explain, and exclaim the lessons life continually throws at me, and my take on how to deal.