“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
As I reflect on this past year, I recognize how the enemy has managed to steal my joy and hope; thus, decreasing my faith. I am able to see the times God has been testing me, and when the enemy has presented moments of temptation. And in both occurrences, I feel I’ve come up short.
I read somewhere that “Satan tempts you to bring out your worst. God tests to bring out your best.” As Christians, our faith meter can be assessed by the level of joy we exude and live out; and when we respond in joy to our trials, we will grow and mature in Christ. It produces god-like character, and is used to help us become the men and women God created us to be. In all honesty, it’s been very hard for me to remain joyful in all situations.
In the Book of James, the author, James, is writing a letter to encourage believers to respond differently to trials and sufferings. James recognizes two different responses from the people who experienced hardships, loss, and pain; and he compared the reactions of the ungodly with the responses of those following Christ.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2-3
When life becomes too hard to bear, our faith is manifested in our efforts to choose joy. Yes, friends, it is a choice. Rick Warren gave us this definition of joy: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of us. We can direct access to joy. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Choosing joy is impossible without being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Instead of a “quiet confidence that everything will be alright”, we manifest heavy emotions and false beliefs. We can become depressed and feel like things will never change. But James knew that the call Jesus has for believers is to “count it all joy” when life hits us with the unexpected heartbreak, expected death of a loved one, or unwanted doctor's report. Suffrage in various forms is inevitable, so we must reassure ourselves that God is in control.
I grew up learning how to be dependent on no one, so for several years of my adulthood, I lived doing things independently. But this isn’t God’s calling for us nor the way He loves. Jesus gifted us the Holy Spirit and peace like a dove for a reason; because we cannot do anything to a divine caliber on our own. We need God’s grace and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Only by relying on the spirit of God can we truly tap into the supernatural fruit of joy.
We lack no-thing because the Holy Spirit lives within us; and it’s through that dependency God can grow our faith, hope, and reliance on Him for everything we need and want. Will you choose joy today?
Jesus, thank you for providing us the gift of the Holy Spirit. You knew we would need a counselor, a guide, and an inner light to help us along this journey called life. Lord, I pray that you build our faith through the trials and tribulations we face. The Word says God uses everything for our benefit and His glory (Romans 8:28). May the pressure we face produce a response of joy and praise; and may your name be lifted. Help us Lord to depend on the Holy Spirit and God’s grace to always choose joy and confident reliance on Jesus.
Written by: Ashley K. Stovall