My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. -James 1:2-4

The context of this verse is James (which James is still under debate to this day) addressing the twelve tribes scattered abroad, with exhortations and wisdom for God’s people.

Though the secular world often considers joy and happiness synonymous, to believers, they occur on different levels, and there are actually four combinations of the two in your life:

  • Joy and happiness
  • Joy, but no happiness
  • No joy, but happiness
  • No joy, no happiness

How are joy and happiness not the same?

For believers, joy stems from the deep-seated commitment to living for the Lord, and truly accepting Jesus’ finished work for us on the cross. Happiness is far more fleeting, often at the whim of circumstance. Take Paul, who endured many trials, but joy ran deep in him through many unhappy events and times. In Jesus, His joy ran deeper than any of us will ever understand, but He still wept and was heavy-hearted at times.

Having the joy of knowing the Lord and walking with and for Him doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and rainbows your whole life. Jesus told us that in this life, we would have trouble (John 16:33), but the joy He gives us runs far deeper than any hurt or wound or suffering.

With the foundation of joy as a believer, you can do more than survive…you can thrive! Without foundational joy, you will be tossed around like a rag doll in life’s storms. I know. I’ve been there.

I can testify that I’ve been learning to welcome the trials placed before me…that I know God wants to shape me, and I thank Him for loving me enough to do His work in me.

An excerpt from a My Utmost for His Highest devotional further explains:

Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances.

Read the whole devotional »

Today’s soundtrack

Casting Crowns’ “Thrive” reminds us that His living water runs deep in His children who love and live for Him!