James was writing to encourage the twelve tribes of Israel who were scattered abroad. After so many years of longing for and working towards the Promised Land, they had finally claimed it only to be exiled for various reasons.
Written after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, it would also have been addressed to those who had to flee because of religious persecution.
In what must have been a time of great disappointment and distress, James writes a letter of love and motivation.
“Do not get discouraged, my brothers and sisters when bad things happen to you. Instead see it as a chance to rejoice and be thankful.”
Wait. What? When things are not going well I should be happy? That doesn’t make sense, yet that’s exactly what James is saying.
It’s interesting to note that the word translated “joy” is the Greek word chara which could also mean “delight”.
According to the online dictionary, “joy” means “a feeling of great pleasure or happiness”. “Delight” means “please someone greatly”.
So in other words, when bad times come we should face them with happiness and a feeling of pleasure.
How do we handle the various disappointments and trials that come our way? Do we pout and behave like spoilt children? Do we try to blame someone else for our struggles? Or do we look for the hand of God in our lives?
The way we handle our “bad” days is a strong indicator of where we need to improve in our walk with Christ.
Choose joy, friends. When we walk with Jehovah there should be something different about how we approach the mundane and the difficult things in life.
Lord, today I ask You to help me to choose joy in all my circumstances. I recognize that sometimes I have to go looking for it – open my eyes so that I can find joy in all things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.