Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:
James 1:2 (NLT)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
This verse in the beginning of James’ Epistle has always been one of my favorites. It seldom brings to mind two Christian brothers from my past. The first, whose name, ironically, is also Mark, whenever something bad would happen in your life would laugh and say, “Count it all joy, bro!” The other was my first District Superintendent, Paul Martin. Paul would walk into the district offices and ask, “Are you happy?,” to which he would always get varied responses depending on how things were going. He would then respond, “It doesn’t matter! Do you have joy?” Paul had a very good handle on what James is saying here. The Biblical concept of joy is very different from the concept our world understands. We often mistake joy and happiness, and the Bible sees them very differently. One commentator had this to say, “Happiness is a subjective state, whereas James is instructing us to make a more objective judgment when he says consider it an opportunity for great joy. “Happiness” might encourage readers to expect a carefree life or a constantly cheerful mood. Neither of these is what James has in mind. He acknowledges the presence of extremely unhappy experiences in his readers’ lives. At the same time, and with no perception of any contradiction, James counsels these readers to rejoice during those very experiences of hardship (Stulac, IVPNT: James, 35). The point is this, happiness is dependent upon circumstances which change like the wind, but joy is dependent only upon the Lord, who does not change…ever! So my friend Paul was quite correct, it doesn’t matter if you’re happy, but do you have joy?