One Bible verse that appears confusing (at least at first) is James 1:2, where we are commanded to be joyful in times of trouble.
That certainly flies in the face of what we want. Most people go to great lengths to avoid the possibility of trials. When they come, we try to grind through them and hope they pass quickly.
But God’s Word tells us to be joyful. The answer is given in the same verse, where it tells us that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. Perseverance, something we need in our lives.
People have tried to draw a point before that joy is not the same as happiness. While that is true, it’s even more true that perseverance is not the same as happiness. Happiness says, “Give it to me now!” Perseverance says, “Stick it out, whether it gets better or not.”
In the life of the believer, this is expressed in our walk with God. When the going gets tough, happiness says, “God might have abandoned me. My faith no longer makes me happy.” Perseverance says, “Stick it out. God is worth it, and He will never leave nor forsake me.”
I am not trying to paint happiness in a bad light. It’s great to be happy. I have had many happy seasons in my own life. I am having a mostly happy season of life right now. My wife, children and I eagerly await a baby due in June. We are all reveling in the excitement of a new puppy, who we have had for one week now. The church is a fantastic blessing.
But happiness does not define and should not guide our decisions. I was heavy-hearted when I read within the past month of a celebrity marriage breaking up because one spouse was not “happy.” Rather than perseverance, what we saw instead was the seeking of happiness, which meant the severing of the marriage.
That might seem common in this day and age. But I think about in connection with myself. What if my children don’t always make me happy? What if Sarah doesn’t? What about the church? Should I leave?
The answer, of course, is no. While it’s great to be happy, it’s also good for our faith to build it up in times of difficulty. If a person quits everything in their lives when it becomes hard, they will not be truly satisfied. They will also gain no perseverance, and have no wisdom to offer the next generation when that group seeks to throw in the towel.
So persevere, today. It’s what God wants us all to do, and we can do it with faith and hope in the promises of our Lord.
Until next time, in Christ,