Where do you go when the unexpected happens? Do you hide, argue, or run? Do you blame others or blame yourself? We rarely expect the unexpected so we often have to process pain and trauma in real time. We usually do not get the opportunity to mentally prepare for the many challenges we face, and unfortunately, trials often bring out the worst in us. In the midst of the unexpected, we often say and do things that we regret. As Christians, how are we to respond when trials and tribulations come?
James offers us a very clear reminder of how to respond when the unexpected happens. James 1:1-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” It is easy to understand what James is saying here, but this passage is drastically harder to put into practice. What does James mean when he says to “consider it all joy” when we face trials? Does this mean that we should always smile and never experience sadness? I think not. Jesus wept, and Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Joy does not always mean we are filled with happy emotions. Joy is a gift from God. Joy is not always an emotion or a feeling. Instead, we choose to find joy in the object of our faith, Jesus Christ. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Though we may not understand the unexpected, I pray we run to and find joy in Jesus Christ, our source of hope.
Due to the pandemic, the past two years have been a bit unexpected. In addition to the pandemic, each of us have faced other unexpected circumstances. Many of us have not stopped long enough to think about how Christians should respond to such unusual times. I encourage you to find some time this month to process the past two years. Think about your response to the unexpected. Repent if you have responded incorrectly at different points. Apologize to people that you may have hurt. Turn to Jesus and find joy in the storm.
Jesus is the one that calmed the storm, woke the dead, and opened the eyes of the blind. Jesus is no stranger to difficulties and challenges, but where we failed, Jesus was blameless and perfect. Jesus did not tell us that we will not face the unexpected in this world. Instead Jesus says in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” May we find hope, joy, and courage in Jesus today. He has overcome the sin, brokenness, and death of this world. Jesus has promised Christians an eternal hope in Him. When the unexpected comes, may we find our joy in Him!
Nick, Amanda, and Julia