I’m off to do car stuff and school stuff and other stuff today. This is an excerpt from a speech I gave a while back.
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There is a verse in the book of James that says, “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
Are you kidding me James? Pure joy? In trials? Seriously?
I have always struggled with this verse because I can’t imagine that I’m supposed to feel joyful when the world is trying to whack me upside the head, as it seems to like to do.
If I were to pick nits, it says “consider” it pure joy. It does not say “feel” pure joy. So if you are not feeling pure joy in the midst of your struggle, you are off the hook. Not required.
The joy is not in the trial itself, but rather it is the bi-product of the struggle, of working through the difficulty.
There is joy in the opportunity to grow spiritually in the midst of turmoil, joy in the eventual victory over the difficulty, and I think most especially, joy in the deepening of support relationships as you make your way through the hardship. The people who come to your aid and stand beside you and gather you up are comfort and joy embodied.
And I submit to you, from my own experience, that the joy that comes from difficulty, when it comes, is life altering. It is terribly sweet and lasting and becomes a part of who you are and how you view the experience of life here, and hereafter.
Is there joy in losing a spouse or a child or a loved one, the worst kind of trial? No. Absolutely not. But there is joy in the memory of the beloved that remains. The person may die, but the joy remains. Having said that, I know first hand that grief can numb you to that joy for a long time.
Joy in difficult places is like childbirth — after tremendous pain comes a tremendous and life changing joy.