Written by Bill Sabala

So how’s your 2020 going? 
Just asking the question probably caused some of you to scoff, roll your eyes, and say “Yeah, right.” Let’s face it, unless you’re a toilet paper or mask manufacturer, 2020 has been a year you’d just as soon forget. So your “joy index” must be going through the roof, right?  I mean with all the quarantines, virtual school, and cancelled vacations, it’s a shame we’re wearing masks because it’s hiding our ear-to-ear smiles.
The funny thing is that, according to James, this should be the most joy-filled year of our lives. Now you’re saying, “Bill has lost his mind.” Have I? In James 1:2-4 the Bible says, “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.” This may sound a bit far-fetched to many. After all, are we really supposed to count it all joy? Are we really supposed to count it joy when we lose our job because of down-sizing? How about when our loved one gets COVID-19 and is in the hospital on a ventilator? Does James really mean to count it joy when my mother/father/aunt/uncle/… dies? What kind of twisted dude was James?
The truth is, he’s not twisted at all. You see, James understood that the difficulties we go through help build our faith. Seriously, without faith, how could we get through all of these difficulties (trials) AND keep our sanity? Our faith in Jesus is how we do it. Our faith in Him gives us the ability to have joy; even though our circumstance seems dire. So let’s listen to Paul who writes in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Let’s remember Jesus is the reason we celebrate, and He enables us to have joy through every situation.