"When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." James 1:2
You know, this isn't often how we respond to troubles. We don't always (or ever) first see some hardship as an opportunity for "great joy."
Today as I carefully walk around our house, fighting every urge to straighten things up before David gets home this afternoon, I don't consider the pain in my back "an opportunity for great joy."
I consider it annoying.
I hurt my back lifting a patient a little over 2 years ago when I worked as an RN in the recovery room in Atlanta. The injury put me on light duty for 3 months. And, since I left nursing, I haven't had any problems. (PRAISE THE LORD!)
So, when I woke up Monday morning, barely able to get out of bed because this sharp pain right at my "injured spot" hurt so so badly, annoyed wasn't the first feeling I felt... No. No no... I felt pain. And then I felt scared.
You see, there's nothing "joyful" about a back injury while you're experiencing a back injury.
And there's really nothing "joyful" when it's a re-injury.
There's nothing "joyful" about receiving lectures from almost strangers about proper back health when you've completely understood how to best take care of your back since you were diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11.
There's nothing "joyful" about pain that stops you in your tracks.
There's nothing "joyful" about the clerk at Kroger having to help you scan your items in self checkout like you're a weak and fragile elderly woman when there's a weak and fragile elderly woman next to you scanning her items all by herself.
There's nothing "joyful" about not being able to do the things you want to do or NEED to do.
Breathe Lindsay... Read Lindsay...:
Notice, the verse doesn't say the troubles are joyful.
No, James says, when the troubles are present, there is then an OPPORTUNITY for great joy to come and also be present.
I like how The Message translation unwraps this ...
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." James 1:2-4
Don't force it, Lindsay!
And don't ignore it.
Recognize that because I am in this situation there is now an OPPORTUNITY for JOY to come, for GROWTH to come, for some kind of BLESSING to come that wouldn't have come if I wasn't sitting exactly where and how I am right now.
Are back injuries annoying, incessant, slow to heal, all out irritating, crippling, and did I say PAINFUL???
So, how blessed are we that The Word tells us to consider our troubles as a gift?
Our situation doesn't end with just resolution. It ends with joy.
Y'all, that's more than "seeing the silver lining."
Following a God like that, that's a whole lot of joy in itself.