There is so much about our world today that causes stress upon the heart, mind, body and soul. Our busy schedules fill every waking hour with important appointments and tasks. Unceasing news of war and political unrest worldwide, in addition to an unsteady economy here in America, bring about constant worries and fears. Moreover, sickness or the painful loss of a loved one or strife within one’s family further exacerbate the trials we experience here on earth. But in looking to God’s word, the Bible, in the midst of our suffering, we discover an astonishing command.
James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” The Apostle James’ asserts that trials are inevitable, and yet he maintains that we are supposed to consider such times as “pure joy.” How is this possible?
Imagine if the book of James, which has been called the most practical book of the Bible, were a smartphone app. Here are five important steps to downloading God’s app to turn stress into joy:
- Consider the blessings. When we take a step back from our momentary troubles to thank God for His goodness, we are able to see and appreciate what’s really important in life. Make it a habit of thanking God at the beginning, middle and end of your day and watch your stress level fade away.
- Understand the purpose. True joy is not dependent upon outward circumstances, but on an inward peace, knowing that our circumstances—whether good or bad—are all part of a spiritual journey. This journey is a blessing because the purpose of trials is not intended to be punishment from God, but to be an opportunity to grow in our faith, to build strength and endurance that ultimately matures us in Christ.
- Wise up. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Because He loves us, our Father in Heaven wants to instill in us spiritual virtues that will help us during difficult times. From cover to cover, the Bible is filled with a wealth of wisdom to help us through every season and every decision, but you and I must choose to follow it and obey.
- Take pride in humility. James 1:9 exhorts, “Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.” God lifts up the lowly and humble. If you are stressed because your resources are running low, be patient and trust in the Lord. His Word says that He will lift you up in due time. Doesn’t most of our stress come from a fear of losing something we can’t hold onto anyway? But when we take on a humble attitude, the concerns of this world grow strangely dim and are replaced by indescribable joy.
- Focus on the ultimate prize. We can look forward to a future glory that awaits everyone who perseveres through trials. James 1:12 declares: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” Our present stress wilts and withers in light of what God has prepared for in Heaven those who love Him (2 Corinthians 2:9). It is when we focus on our eternal reward that we truly can possess joy during these stressful times.
We will face trials of many kinds, but God promises to be there for us and to transform us in a way that only He can do. There is an inheritance awaiting you, in a perfect place that will be revealed in the perfect time. Until then, I hope you will obtain the glorious joy that God has for your life now. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1: 8-9
Dudley Rutherford is the author of God Has an App for That and the senior pastor of the 10,000-member Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch (Los Angeles), California. You can find Dudley online at www.Godhasanapp.com or on Twitter @pastordudley.
Copyright 2012 Dudley Rutherford