How is a person able to have joy while experiencing the devastation of a trial? That sounds too spiritual to be practical. Who does the Holy Spirit think we are, anyway? Some Mother-Theresa version of Pollyanna and Mary Poppins?!
Choosing to be a joyful Christian in spite of extraordinary human pain seems high and mighty to most people ... and just plain unrealistic to others. How can anyone in their right mind consider trials a reason for joy?! Why ... that's downright absurd! It is unthinkable at best...unless, of course, you know Jesus. Then, having joy in the middle of a disappointment becomes a very real and genuine possibility!
The truth is this: we are able to have joy regardless of trauma or tragedy because nothing is able to separate us from His presence. And it is in His presence where there is always fullness of joy. Neither death nor disease are able to deny us the strength and comfort of His presence. Financial ruin, relationship challenges and even broken hearts do not wield the power of removing His children from their Father's love and tender care. A divorce is unable to deny us access to His love and rebellious children will not keep you away from all that He is.
We are to choose joy in situations when joy in the natural would be our very last response. When we are angry with people ... disappointed with life ... in the throes of grief ... and tormented by depression ... James points us to a healthier alternative: JOY!
Earthly circumstances are able to steal our happiness but never our joy! So, next time a trial is headed your way, don't welcome depression but instead, start counting all the reasons why you are able to be a joy-filled and saturated Christian!
Joy truly is the litmus test that determines whether or not we have set our course by remaining in the presence of God.