Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy . . . 1 Peter 1:8

As perplexed as one can be, I step back and take another look at the meaning of joy. Clearly, not to be confused with happiness, joy takes on an entirely different shape. It’s a state of my heart and a condition of my soul. Joy … made complete only through Christ Jesus.

Joy is one of those difficult things for the human mind to grasp. How does a mother who loses her baby find joy? How does the head of a household find joy in the loss of his job? How do victims of natural disaster who find themselves homeless experience joy?

I then think of the many trials and tribulations so many have endured. And James reminds us even in the midst of the worst to consider them pure joy. So, I invite you to the gallery of trials and tribulations. For behind the canvas of each of these unpredictably driven moments is joy unspeakable and full glory of our Savior . . . to whom I stand in awe!

The first portrait is that of Horatio G. Spafford. It is one of great loss financially, professionally and personally. But beneath the immense pain and grief from the sudden death of his daughters was joy — joy filled with Amazing Grace! Horatio G. Spafford in crossing the Atlantic to attend his daughters funerals … equals joy!

Visit now this portrait. The man we know of fairly well. A prisoner -in chains. Paul the Apostle, in prison for proclaiming the gospel of Christ. It is from here he writes to continue in sharing, encouraging and teaching the message of salvation. Paul in prison … equals joy!

Now come with me round the corner. This portrait is not so very different than the others. It’s yours and mine. The circumstances of my life, of your life, are clearly represented on this canvas. What’s behind my portrait? What’s behind yours? Can you say, me in my circumstances … equals joy!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds . . . James 1:2

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