Consider It Joy
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3
Yeah, about that…
For the last several months the idea of keeping my joy has been at the forefront of my mind. How do I keep joy when everything seems to be crashing in on me? I will be the first to admit when challenges arise, my mind goes in a hundred, make that a thousand directions. I start trying to plan and calculate…crisis mode. It has vastly improved this last year but there are those times. Trying to calculate everything that could possibly happen, good or bad, creates anxiety and makes me come off as a bit of a drama queen now and again. I overwhelm myself with processing information till my little brain finally slows down and I hear my spirit say…”Peace. Be still and know.” That last phrase sounded so peaceful. In reality my spirit is screaming “SHUT-UP”, then she talks nice…eventually.
The fact is I am far better at seeing the joy in your trials than the joy in my own. This excerpt from James has been constant in my thoughts, even before we started the summer series on the Book of James. Read the verses again. “Consider it pure joy”. It does not say rejoice in your pain. It says “CONSIDER”. Let’s dust off Merriam-Webster for this one. Definition 1(a) “1 : to think about carefully: such as a : to think of especially with regard to taking some action.” To think about carefully especially in regard to taking action…now I get it.
For years my Momma has had a quote from Charles Swindoll on her refrigerator about attitude. The last line of this pearl of wisdom on Mom’s fridge is “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our Attitudes”. We make a lot of decisions in the midst of trials. Between James 1:2 and Brother Charles Swindoll, I am beginning to see the consideration of joy lies in how we endure our trials. Are we faithful to God in our trial. Do we stand on and bury ourselves in His word? Do we seek the lessons in our trial or use the experience to help another? Do we consider the joys on the other side of the current challenge? Or do we curl up in the fetal position and pout?
Your Attitude Impacts Your Altitude
Facing financial struggles, medical reports, family dynamics, and so many more things I could list often makes me feel like I am struggling to praise and to pray. When I get overwhelmed, my prayers go from a level of authority speaking from the promises of God to more of a whiny teenager that didn’t get her way. My guess is you have been there too. Working to control those thoughts, those mind monsters, is exhausting. The more I fight them off and command my thoughts the easier that process becomes. I am persevering in my fight against the mind monsters and I am rewarded with endurance. I can consider the joy of the decision made to obey God. I am taking action. You may not realize I am doing it, but it is an ongoing decision process dictating my actions. My attitude toward the situation is how I consider it joy.
Command those mind monsters that attack our considered joy. It’s time to pull our best Gandalf and say “You shall not pass!” While you are creating movies in your head to battle the thoughts sabotaging your joy and faith…watch what you say. We ALL have an inner dialogue with ourselves. Some people, like myself, are animated and can spend hours entertaining their own inner dialogue. Some people are boring. (It’s okay, God loves both of us.) Be careful what you speak to yourself. I am talking about those conversations in our head when we tell ourselves things like “I can’t do this”, “I’m not worthy” or “I’m nobody”. Let me go back to some Momma wisdom from my childhood, “I know your somebody, cause God don’t make junk”. The statement is tongue-in-cheek, but if all good things come from God – it’s true too.
Have faith in what God can do through you. Change your thoughts and speech from “I can’t because _____” to “God has made more than a conqueror; therefore, I can ____”. (Or any similar combination) Just like we need to pray in power using the scriptures, we need to self talk in power using the scriptures. Our best is ahead of us and we will never see it come to fruition if we do not consider this time of trials pure joy.