Gather • Devotion #6: Pure Joy

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2 (NIV)

Wait, what did that say? Let me try that again, “Consider it pure joy” is fine, but “whenever you face trials” is challenging. Is this saying I am supposed to be joyful not only through my trials but because of them? 

We all face struggles and conflicts. Trials are inevitable. Yet, how do we “consider it pure joy?” 

James 1:3 (NIV) continues, “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Trials can be a blessing because we can come out better for it on the other side!

For the first time in my walk with the Lord, I am beginning to understand this concept. I will let you in on a not-so-secret part of my life. I am not always firm in my faith; I waiver. 

This last season, I struggled with depression (another first for me). I began to question myself, and eventually, it turned into questioning God, and even His people. I knew that He was good, and He knew what I was going through, but even still, my faith was wavering. Once I gained the courage to ask for prayer and seek counseling, I was surrounded by reminders that my feelings were not His Truth. No, our feelings do not equal Truth.

God’s Truth is: 

I am created in His image! “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). 

He cares about me so much; He even knows the ridiculous details, like how many hairs I have on my head! “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7). 

He knew me before I knew me – and knows me better! “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16).

I am, in fact, a child of God. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV).

Finally, that in Him, I am whole. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9-10 NIV).

I was able to be reminded of all of this because I am surrounded by a community that loves the Lord and loves me.

I wish I had continued to read. I wish I continued to go to gatherings. I wish I continued to pray. However, when I did not, they did. Community is important. God’s Word is important. When we are down, they both can remind us of this, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV).
Now, on the other side of this trial, I can help someone else be reminded of who they are in Christ! Gathering with the church family is important! After all, it is what He calls us to do! “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).

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