Elusive Joy

Are you having a hard time hanging onto your joy? If so, I’m right there with you. 

This week was tough. There were multiple doctor’s appointments, work schedule changes, friends facing tough circumstances, and other life frustrations. However, through it all, I was reminded of James 1. 

It’s that verse that says, “Count it all joy brothers and sisters when you face trials of various kinds.” This verse has always made me want to punch James in the face. What a frustrating statement on so many levels! Either he is so holy that he doesn’t have to go through trials, at least not the kind that I have to go through, or he’s like one of those people I’ve read about who actually love to exercise and wear shirts that say, “Embrace the Pain!” 

A friend and pastor, Josh Walters, was teaching, and he pointed out one word that I have misread for years. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Whenever you “face” trials. 

Count it worth joy whenever you “square off” with trials head to head. 

I always read it like, “whenever you endure, put up with, trudge through, or are a victim of trials…” I never read it like I was facing or standing up to an enemy. You know, when you’re meeting someone head-on, it’s always good to have someone stronger than you behind you to have your back. This verse shows how God has got my back.

“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

I will not be Shaken in my trials. I can almost see how trials could be a Joy in the God of the universe is on your side.

Life is still going to be hard, and if I’m being honest, I’m not the biggest fan of hard. But something Pastor Josh also said in that same teaching changed my mindset. He said, “What if we changed our thoughts on what trials are. What if we considered it training?” 

Training always produces results. 

James tells us that training like this produces perseverance. “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4

What kind of training have you been doing? Have you seen the results? Does this reframe your thinking on trials like it did me?

I always love to hear what you are thinking. Leave a message in the comments and we can pray though this together.

In His service and at yours!


Published by Shawn McCarthy

While serving as the Weekend Experience Pastor at Seacoast Church, I felt God prompting me to share the moments when He would speak His truth into my life through scripture in a way that made sense to me, giving me tangible ways to learn, grow and lead. These promptings turned into weekly emails that I would send my small groups and volunteer teams. I found myself enjoying the process of digging deeper into God’s Word, being stretched by the writing process, and encouraging others in the faith. My lovely wife, Anna, challenged me to begin this blog, so these moments that I have come to call, my “Red-Letter Moments,” can find a home. My prayer is that you will find hope, comfort, and inspiration here, and above all, you will come to know that the God of the universe loves you and desires a personal relationship with you.”

3 thoughts on “Elusive Joy

  1. Thank you for your messages, they always leave me having learned lessons, and then trying to apply them. Hopefully, the doctor’s appointments were just routine, and that you and yours are enjoying good health. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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