"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds."
James 1:2, NIV
In May 2013, I started a discussion group based on my book, The Story Lives. Six women gathered at Lucky Jack's Latte and we quickly decided not to plow through the material in eight weeks but take our time. We're still getting together weekly.
It's been a transformational experience for all of us. The book served as the platform to discuss our life stories and discover God's plans for our lives—together. By telling and exploring our stories we developed deep, transparent and life-long friendships. We've laughed, cried, and challenged each other through really hard trials, including: chronic pain, severe financial distress, serious illness, relational issues, and parenting drug-addicted children. (We're not the fluffy variety.) Based on our circumstances sad faces might be expected but you won't find any. When you see us you'd think we have it all! And we do...
We all have joy! Not just happiness or run-of-the-mill joy. We're discovering true, unending joy. It started blossoming when Lynn helped me through a challenging situation with a person I don't like. Lynn shared about a similar situation in her life and how God showed her to give thanks for everything, including a difficult person.
"The joy of the Lord is your strength," Neh. 8:10.
With Lynn's encouragement, I started practicing giving thanks. It works! Since then joy has been an ongoing focus and we're all practicing giving thanks. Joy has been the inevitable result as we spur each other and encourage each other. We've all increased in joy.
It's changed us. Can you imagine having true joy while your child is a drug addict, or your loved-one is facing an uncurable disease, or you suffer chronic pain? Only God can make that happen! And he's doing it. It's available to all of us. It's a fruit that flows from his Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
God taught us to embrace trials and experience pure joy.