when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2
My observation over the years, both in my own life and in others, is that the normal human reaction to “trouble” is not joy! Our knee-jerk reaction is worry, discouragement, irritation, fear, anger…. You can fill in the blank there. Bottom line, we let the circumstances, the “trouble,” dictate our emotions, and then our emotional state influences our thoughts, actions and words. Many times the ‘trouble’ isn’t even real, its just a possible trouble, one we think might happen… We let the externals influence our internals. James is reminding us here that as Christians, we don’t have to let that happen. We have within us the resources that will enable us to rise above the natural, to not be so impacted by circumstances. To actually continue to display the fruits of the Spirit (He is the resource within us!), which include joy, peace, gentleness….
It seems to me the key to all this is in the verbs: ‘consider,’ and ‘know’(found in the next verse). We “consider” because we “know.” ‘Consider’ has nothing to do with our emotions, it is a function of the mind and will. It is a choice we make, a filter through which we see the events of our lives. Sunglasses filter out some of the damaging light, but still allows us to see. So, too, does ‘considering’ and ‘knowing.’ It is our faith, our relationship with Jesus, the assurance of His presence and faithfulness, that filters out much of the fear, the discouragement, the anger. We still ‘see’ the trouble, but not in the same way. Or so it should be as Christians. The externals should not influence our internals as much as our internals should impact the externals: what we ‘see.’ Will you pray this week, that God will allow you (and those around you) to ’consider’ and ‘know’ this week? To be able to rise above the normal human reaction, and be people who reflect real joy? It’s possible, you know. But only with His help.