My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. ~ James 1:2-4

“Life is difficult,” is the first line of the book, The Road Less Travelled, by M. Scott Peck, M.D.

I agree that life is difficult and it is also challenging and downright hard. I have learned over the years as an apprentice of Jesus that these trials and temptations propel me along the way of growth and transformation.  Do I like it?  No way, but we will have them anyway because we’re human, so I’m learning to hang on and let them do their work in me.  I do think, however, that the last while is a little bit much.  Just sayin’. And a few more challenges are on the horizon in the next two or three months ~ a funeral, the move into our new home, and following that almost immediately, I’ll have to move my office.  I’ll need to call on all the stress management techniques that I have learned over the years.

My “pay attention” word for the month is “Notice.”  This word grounds me and helps me stay in the moment.  My focus isn’t very good at the moment because I am still processing our son-in-law’s suicide and all of the many things surrounding it.  I notice that I am spending a lot of time working Sudoku puzzles.  This is good for my brain, but I am spending much more time than usual.  I’m remembering that when our son, Doug, died I worked jig-saw puzzles all the time for a month or two. What’s with this? Maybe it’s my response to shock. Also, Jon’s suicide coincides in time with Doug’s suicide 21 years ago.  Maybe I have unfinished business in need of healing.

As for considering it “all Joy” I ponder.  I once was asked about the difference between joy and happiness, and I really didn’t have a good answer. Some say that they are the same thing, but I’m beginning to doubt that. I think that happiness is, most often, an emotion that depends on everything running reasonably the way we want. Happiness is fickle.

Joy, on the other hand, though some may disagree, is an attitude that we maintain whether we are happy or not. Attitudes are hard to describe and we choose them. There is an element of hope in joy. There is a sense of contentment. Rick Warren says, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  And thank him too, as I wrote about last week.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) which grows in us when we spend time, especially silent time, with Jesus.  It’s probably easier for him to do his work in us when we aren’t doing all the talking. I notice that I am not really happy at the moment because horrible things have happened, but there is a deep and deepening sense of trust in God that lets me be content.  Most times. Once in a while.  Maybe the Sudoku helps me be still and let things sort themselves out.  Hmm.

The opening scripture verse from James in The Message says:  “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” – James 1:2-4

I wish you Joy, Donna


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