My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. — James 1:2
Sometimes it’s the photos that are blurry and candid that capture the most joy. Here I am with SBF Coordinator Dennis Kiprop in 2011.
What does joy feel like? For me, it is a feeling of expanse and effortlessness, an emotion that fills my heart and soul. Joy opens me to experience something that feels bigger than I alone.
Thinking about these positive emotions of joy, it is difficult to believe that the tests in my life should be moments of joy. James calls us to feel happy even in the midst of challenge, when we are most tempted to ignore God and ignore the joy of the Lord.
The song reminds me that, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” And it is in times of test that I need that internal strength.
But when I remember, when I am able, to consider joy, then the darker thoughts get pushed to the side. I can cultivate joy in those tests by talking to a friend or loved one, by connecting with the larger world, by remembering a past moment of delight, by recalling a beautiful place where I’ve experienced joy, or by putting on a good song and dancing.
Del writes about feeling joy and the power of God in us: “In this quickening power, let me be aware of God’s divine grace activity with awe, wonder and expectancy. Thus the outer condition or negative relationship is dispelled in the light of Spirit. I will practice and exercise this being still, letting go and letting God be God in me, through me, as me.”
That power of God’s joy in us and that privilege to be co-creators with God are available to us when we turn occasions of trial – occasions that, in our human experience, seem despairing – into occasions for joy.
Related blog posts:
If you’re happy and you know it (Thoughts on living a happy life, by Canaan Gondwe)
Joy! (A short meditation by me)
Spirituality and Service (by Del Anderson)