AN OPPORTUNITY FOR JOY
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” James 1:2
There was a time when I would read this verse, put down my Bible, grit my teeth, and put on a fake smile. After all, I was to face my troubles with joy. Did it make my trouble any less? Maybe, just slightly, but if you asked me if my heart was truly thankful and full of joy I would have to be honest and say no.
When my sister was in her late teens my parents sacrificed time and money so she could have braces. The top palate of her mouth was too narrow to match her teeth on the bottom. The orthodontist made an appliance to widen her mouth. To me it looked like a device of torture! Every night my sister took a little wrench and turned it so it would spread, slowly widening her mouth. I remember cringing and peeking at her with one eye as she did this. My poor sister’s mouth would ache, I felt bad for her. Did she enjoy braces and the pain it brought? No, not at all. However, she was thankful my parents sacrificed time and money so she could have a perfect smile.
Years have passed. Albums are full with her beautiful smile at her graduation, her engagement, her wedding, the birth of her children, and more. If you were to dig down near the bottom of the stack of albums, you would find one small album which contains a smile with over crowded teeth and braces. No one, not my sister nor my parents regret the trial and pain of braces. Instead they are thankful they went through the pain and sacrifice.
James never said that trials and troubles would be pain free. Hebrews 12:11 both confirms this and gives us a clue as to why they may be an opportunity for great joy. “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
What if my sister, after getting her braces, found them to be too painful and requested them to be taken off? What if my parents wishing to spare my sister pain took her back to the orthodontist and had them removed? Would this have been love?
Romans 8:28 really sums up the reason to celebrate under trial. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
What makes the difference? How can troubles become joyful? By not focusing on the pain but trusting God will turn your trial into a “beautiful smile”
“… Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5