A few years ago I was driving to college, stressed and late. I'd slept through my alarm and then dragged myself from bed feeling ill and aching all over. No, I didn't have the flu, just my normal health issues acting up. I left the house late and in a hurry, forgetting my homework, only to get stuck waiting for the bridge to come down after it stopped traffic to let a tall boat through.
I was mentally rehearsing the tale of all my unfortunate events when I was struck with a thought (or perhaps hit upside the head by the Holy Spirit?)... I had a choice: I could keep bemoaning my troubles, or I could choose to move on and be happy today.
It's a tough choice. Let's face it, sometimes we like wallowing in our misfortunes. Who's up for a pity party?! Certainly any given day we have plenty of things to find fault with. We've all heard the verse from James, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds," but how do we do that, and why?
Not to say it's wrong to tell a friend what's troubling you, or laugh about mishaps, but it is wrong to live with an attitude of "woe is me" or get so caught up with life that we forget to be thankful. Ultimately it comes down to a choice we have to make.
Are we willing to be Pollyannas and look for the glad things in life? Are we able to acknowledge that God is good even when life seems bad? Can we call out to God for help and ask Him for joy, even in difficult times?
Looking at the rest of the passage in James helps give reason for what seems like a backwards response. "Count it all joy, my [sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Some versions say "...that you may be mature and complete...."
Here are some of the things I can count as joy:
+ I am a writer, with exciting stories always in my head to entertain me, and sometimes on paper to entertain others. (I got the 2nd draft of my novel Reaching Sky done this week! and my collaborative Peculiar People's orphan train book is almost done with the first section)
+ I have a job I love that helps others and that allows me to work with people, words, languages, and cultures—all my passions. I work in education, always learning, and in churches, helping spread the gospel.
+ I have been able to use my experiences with my disabilities to encourage and help others.
|Little Amy finding joy in a ball|
|Joy in a snow angel|