James 1:2-4 | James 1:12 | Acts 16:24-25

So…what’s wrong with you, again?

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

(James 1:2 NLT)

Maybe you, like Mariah, are thinking this makes no sense. But like many things that seem to make no sense, digging deeper helps. Read what comes next…

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

(James 1:3-4 NLT)

Could it be that your troubles are to make you better, not bitter? (Forgive the cliché.) Consider the possibility that the things that are bothering you are to test your faith, grow your endurance, and basically make you perfect.

Think about it…if you knew someone who put up with all the troubles you have and faithfully did so with a great attitude, wouldn’t you consider them ‘perfect?’

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

(James 1:12 NLT)

This must be how Paul and Silas were thinking when, after being thrown in jail for telling people that Jesus is the Messiah, they decided to sing hymns to God.

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.

(Acts 16:25 NLT)

As Joel mentioned, you may not feel very happy about what is happening to you. But you can choose to focus on God’s promise to bless you for your patient endurance and facing temptation.

You do not have to feel happy to make this choice. And no matter how you feel, you can still choose to experience the joy that comes from knowing you are forgiven and loved by God.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Can you think of a time when you needed to choose to be joyful in the middle of trouble? How did you do? Did you choose to be joyful or did your troubles get the best of you?
  • What might it look like to consider trouble an opportunity for great joy? Have you ever seen someone do this very well? What did they do?
  • What if you mess up and get all negative about a situation? How do you think God feels about you in that case?
  • How much do you believe what it says in James 1:3-4? How do you think you can prove (or disprove) this statement to yourself?

Joyful Souls: Challenge

If you like research, you may like this challenge. You may not love it, though, because it does not require a ridiculous level of detailed research. On second thought…if you do not like research, you may like this challenge because it requires only basic Internet searching.

That said, here is your challenge: discover 3 people (living or deceased) who meet the following criteria and read their stories.

  1. Dealt with severe hardship
  2. Known to be a follower of Jesus
  3. Acted faithfully (or heroically, honorably, etc.) or overcame the hardship