There are times when life is stressful. It is not a question of if but when tension will find us because stressful situations are a part of life. They are unavoidable. 1 Peter 4:12 tells us, “Not to be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” A great goal for everyone is to move through the stresses of life without getting stressed out, but how is this possible?
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me.” John 14:1 (NIV)
Moving through a stressful day or season without getting stressed is possible… if we follow the perspective of joy James 1 proclaims. James writes that we should consider it joy when we encounter or fall into trials of many kinds. The Greek word for joy in this verse is chara and translates to mean gladness, joyous, calm delight, and cheerfulness.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2-3 (NIV)
Understanding why we should actually feel joy during trials and adversity is explained in the following two verses. As we endure difficult tests of faith we learn to practice spiritual perseverance. With perseverance, we gain maturity in Christ. Moving from a need for spiritual milk to a desire for spiritual meat is a great reward and something to be joyful about. Trials move us from infancy to spiritual adulthood.
“Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4 (NIV)
Our reaction to stress gives us insight into our spiritual condition. King David had a lot of stress in his life but when he trusted God, he remained stress-free. Consider the young man who killed the giant, Goliath. David’s was fearless when he relied on God for victory.
“’The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.’ Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you.’” 1 Samuel 17:37 (NIV)
While King Saul vigorously pursued David with murderous intentions, David formed a mighty band of warriors and trusted God to keep him safe. He praised God for victory.
“David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.’” 2 Samuel 22:1-2 (NIV)
There are many stories in the Bible telling of men and women who suddenly found themselves in unexpected turmoil. Mary, the mother of Jesus, Job, the apostles, Elijah, and many other prophets are just a few who come to mind. Their belief in a loving God helped them persevere and push through the testing of their faith. When we encounter a tragedy, we must strive to trust God with the outcome and purpose. Our reaction to a trial will be a witness to those around us, thus glorifying God. It will also be the means by which God promotes our spiritual growth. This is surely enough to be counted for joy.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
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