Persevere with joy…
Crazy James talks about this. He says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance,” (James 1:2-3).
I guess “mature Christians” are able to do this… I, however, am not. I have not one ounce of energy with which to “choose joy”, as they say. When I am in the midst of a trial, I feel heavy-hearted and sick inside most of the time. Unhappy, unjoyful, yet still very much a sojourner in pursuit of Christ.
How can this be? What does this mean?
What is lacking? Where is the disconnect?
I love Jesus. And I’m thankful for His walking through the valleys with me. But joy? No, there is no joy in my soul.
Call me a cynic, but I don’t think I have the ability to choose joy. Through much training and self-discipline, I may be able to change my natural bent toward pessimism 1% in the opposite direction… but, on the whole, joy is not natural. Not for me, resident pessimist; not for anyone.
It’s my perception that our sinful natures quite literally can’t choose joy. At least not for very long or with much consistency. Similarly, we can’t persevere through trials. At least not for very long or with much consistency. So, logically, it follows we most certainly cannot choose to persevere in joy. At least not for very long, etc.
We can hang on for dear life through trials… we can kick and scream as life drags us through trials… we can find all sorts of unhealthy ways to pass the time while trials happen to us…
But, in and of ourselves, we can’t persevere. We can’t proactively and righteously conquer a trial.
Can’t be done.
Can’t be done without supernatural intervention.
Can’t be done without Jesus.
I cannot persevere in joy and righteousness. I don’t believe in myself. Not because I have miserably low self-esteem, but because I know all too well the depths of my depravity. I know what I’m capable of. And it’s the same ridiculousness you are capable of.
I cannot persevere in joy and righteousness alone. But I can pray that God will help me. That’s the best I can do. And maybe that’s all He’s asking me to do. Maybe the secret to persevering is admitting you can’t and relying on He who can.