One of the last things Jesus told His disciples before His crucifixion was, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow that her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will have joy, and no one will take your joy from you.”
Birth is messy. Risky. Life-changing. It is also painful.
However, joy makes it worth enduring. Joy helps us endure any trial.
Picture joy as a warrior. Joy stands at the ready, surrounded on every side by the wolves of anguish, sorrow, and difficulty. As his enemies close in on him, Joy fights out, leading the way to the refuge to be found in the awareness of God’s grace. Just being aware of God’s love leaning in toward us is enough to help us count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds.
When our joy is in the Lord Jesus, no one can take it away from us. It really does become the warrior that fights its way out from underneath the enemy in order to glimpse the blue skies of hope.
The James who wrote the book of James was not one of the twelve disciples. He was the younger brother of Jesus, a biological son of Mary and Joseph. James would have had to wrestle with the seeming madness of his brother claiming to be the Son of God, with His later arrest and execution, and then, he would have grappled with the fact of the resurrection. We can assume that his life held many trials.
However, his mother was the same Mary, who in the midst of trial herself, had sung the beautiful poem of praise that Luke records as the magnificat. Mary would have shared her joy in the Lord with her son, James.
When he became a true follower of Jesus and a leader in the early church, his trials did not come to an end. In the Book of Acts, we see him sorting through the difficult questions that arose between Jewish and Gentile believers, and in his own letter, he encourages the church to stand firm during their continuing trials.
Again and again, James relied on the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit, the warrior, joy in him to fight through the various trials attending his way, to lead the way to the awareness of God’s grace.
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