Are there trials in your life today? Are they dragging you down, filling you with dread and worry? Take heart! Jesus stands ready to bring you joy despite your difficult circumstances.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 – NIV
Brick steps make me nervous. I have trouble distinguishing one step from the next. Loss of contrast is one of the effects of my degenerative retinal disease. Brick steps are low in contrast, their varied color and pattern obscuring the edges of each step.
A long flight of brick stairs looks like an undulating ramp to me. I cannot judge the height of each step,and that lack of perspective is a bit unnerving. Without contrast, I lose perspective.
Contrast highlights the differences between objects, allowing us to distinguish their unique qualities. Contrast gives us perspective.
It strikes me that contrast offers a unique perspective on joy. I wonder if any of us fully comprehend the true meaning of joy until we have experienced the tragedy of loss. Most of us fail to comprehend the concept of joy until we reach the end of things. Until our hearts are broken, until our selfish pursuits reach their end, until our world falls apart, it is just too easy to depend on ourselves, on our own initiatives, on our own plans. But when tragedy strikes and all seems lost, we hit rock bottom, and we need God. We need Him in a way we have never needed Him before. We need His love. We need His hope, for we are utterly lost without it.
When we finally go all in, put all our trust in God’s magnificent love for us, we begin to rest in His provision, His protection, His power. We stop trying to fix it all and start believing that He can. God doesn’t always take away our hard circumstances, but He does see us through them. Choosing to trust changes our perspective, allowing us to see how God is working in our lives.
The more we rest in the assurance of God’s faithfulness, the more thankful we become. Instead of blundering along blindly through our days, cranky and contrary, we begin to see His blessings unfold all around us. We notice the beauty of His creation. We pay attention to the way He is providing for our needs. We are thankful for the good people He has placed in our path, noticing their kindness, seeing the beauty in their smiles.
We cannot know joy without opening our hearts to trust and thankfulness, but I‘m not sure we can comprehend true joy without the contrast of adversity. Maybe it’s the heartache of living through tragedy that makes us cherish the good things of life. Perhaps the tears of loss cleanse our eyes, bringing joy into focus.
When we have lingered in the pit of despair, we understand the blessing of a mountaintop view. When we have weathered the hard times, we can truly appreciate the happy days. It is that sense of gratitude that allows joy to rise up within us.
Living through adversity affords us a different perspective. We understand that life is far from perfect, but it can still be good, and that realization opens the door to joy.
It turns out that contrast is not only important for safely navigating brick steps. A little contrast allows us to see things clearly, and that fresh perspective can help us find our way to a joy-filled life..
“Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”
John 16:20 – NIV
O Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of joy that comes from knowing You. Help us place our trust in You alone. May we be thankful for the happy days and the hard ones too, knowing that each day is a precious gift from You. . May we find joy, no matter the state of our circumstances. May we entrust our grief to You, trusting that with time, You will turn our grief into joy.
In the Gracious Name of Jesus, we pray,