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 compete, lacking in nothing.
I've just started Beth Moore's study on the book of James and this passage is my current memory verse. I've been trying to learn it for the last week or so. Not just memorize it, but understand it.
"Various trials" I understanding.
But "all joy"?
That's a mystery.
Consider it all joy. All? Really? All as in: sickness, death, severed relationships, job loss, rebellious kids, broken dreams, flat tires, endless traffic, crazy deadlines, mountains of laundry, all?
How is that even possible?
Yet, everywhere I've turned in the last week or so He's presented me with stunning examples of those who consider it all joy. Those who, though life is hard, are living with joy.
I saw it in the face of a mom who wonders if she can carry this pregnancy to term.
I heard it in the voice of a friend wondering if this adoption door will close like the last one.
It's reflected in the smile of the one who said final goodbyes to her dear mother and is learning to live life without her.
It's in the text message sent from a friend walking through their own valley who just wanted to encourage me.
It's the trust of the one who should be worried about paying the bills but instead is confidently trusting.
I see it. I see "all joy".
The past several days I've passed an unusual sight on my way in and out of work. Every day it's caught my attention and made me smile. It's just a simple petunia. Not normally a flower I would even notice. Growing up in the nursery and landscaping business I've seen enough petunias to last me a lifetime. But this little guy is different. It's not what he is, it's where.
Today as I passed by again I saw in this little flower what I've seen in the lives of my friends lately. Surrounded by hard circumstances they bloom anyway.
And maybe that's the goal of trials. Not to get through them, or get past them, or get over them, but to bloom in them. So that when someone walks by and sees us blooming right there in the middle of the hard they smile, they find joy, and they wonder if maybe they could bloom too.