There is no easy road in life. We all face challenges that cause us to stumble in life, lose motivation, and despair. Looking around we see the depravity of man and corruption of the world. This sends us to an even lower emotional state of hopelessness. The walls around seems to get taller everyday. Where can you turn?
When I have sunk low to that point of desperation I look and see other people that appear to have that perfect life I desire. I covet their life and what they have or do that I find myself being angry at them. The people can be complete strangers and I don’t like them. I know this is wrong, it is against the law that God has given us in the Ten Commandments, but how can I have joy like what James describes? Where does this joy come from? What does it mean to have joy?
Perspective! Perspective is like the sun coming out after a week of clouds. It is realizing the world is not all doom and gloom. Despite all the doom, gloom, and sin of the world we have the best gift in the entire universe, Jesus Christ! The promises of Christ transcend all the tribulations we face. Keeping the perspective that God is in control of everything and that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16-17)
Now let’s not be confused about why bad things are happening. This is not because God turned his back on us, God is constant, he does not vary, he is the father of lights and we are never in the shadows. Ephesians 1 tells us that “when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” We have the promises of God and our inheritance. So why do bad things happen? Perhaps Paul can explain it a little better in 1 Corinthians 10: 13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
God does not promise no temptations in our lives or that he will remove it, but provide a way of escape. What is this way of escape? The word of truth. The Word provides joy. Joy does not equate to happiness, but hope or perspective. God is the sovereign creator in control of all things, he has not abandoned us to the grave, and he has promised us his Spirit to provide guidance. I still struggle at times of desperation, but I know and believe this is not an eternal state of my life and is a short period in comparison to eternity in heaven with my Father.
You may be saying to yourself that you have heard this all before and it isn’t that easy to put into action. True! I 100% agree. We have all been there and all need to continue to work on dealing with these struggles. Do we support one another in these times? Are we honest enough to open up to others when we are going through a trial in life?
Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. – John 16:24