James 1:2-3 (NKJV)
2 My Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
In the context of today, many people tend to get confused between the meaning of joy and the meaning of happiness, often thinking that they are one and the same thing. However, when these two traits are put through the lens of the Word of God, they actually appear significantly different from one another. If you were to realize, whenever the Bible talks about the characteristics of God, it never once said that happiness was part of the fruit of the Spirit, and there is good reason for that. We all know that in Nehemiah 8:10, it says that ‘the Joy of the Lord is your strength’. So what exactly does that mean? How do we derive strength from an emotion, or is joy really just an emotion?
To answer these questions, we can look to the beginning of the book of James. In the very first chapter of the book of James, he opens up by saying, ”Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” First of all, the word ‘all’ that is used here is an absolute word, when James said count it ALL joy, he really meant every single thing, both good and bad. This brings many to the point of confusion, maybe even doubt, because they are probably thinking, how can one be happy or rejoice when he/she is going through the ups and downs of life? Here’s the thing, it really is close to impossible to be happy throughout the entire duration of your life, much less so when you are faced with a downturn in your life.You see, all these misconceptions arise as a result of us thinking that joy, like happiness, is a mere emotion and nothing more. If that were so, the joy of the Lord wouldn’t be able to become strength for you because you wouldn’t be able to feel it when you are going through the rough patches. The biggest difference between joy and happiness is that while happiness is just a feeling that is resultant from external, physical situations, joy is more like a state of mind as opposed to being just a feeling. That being said, we can be going through the storms of life and we may not be exactly happy with our situation but that can never stop us from being people who are filled with the Lord’s joy.
Joy is the ability to be glad regardless of the externalities. Glad of what, you might ask. Well, it is basically being glad in the truth of our identity and our place in God’s heart, that we are secured in His arms despite what we see and what we physically experience. We can be glad because of the promises that He has made us and the very truth that He will see us through whatever that we go through just because we belong to Him. With that said, we must also not take His grace and mercy for granted, but to do our part to persevere through the various trials and tribulations of our life with eyes that are fixated upon our Lord and hearts that trust in Him. Therefore from today onwards, count it all joy when you face trials of any sort, for when you are weak, you shall be made strong in Christ!
Dear Heavenly Father, I give You thanks because through the various ups and downs of my life, You said in Your Word that You will never leave me nor forsake me. Father, I pray for divine wisdom to understand that whatever I have comes from You and that apart from You, I can do nothing. Lord, teach me to move this truth from simply knowing this in my head to something that I live by and keep within my heart. I pray that I will be able to experience joy that comes from You and to know that in whatever situation, I can be glad that You have got me secured and You are right there with me in the trials and tribulations. Thank You Lord Jesus, in Your Name I pray, Amen.