“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” James 1:2
Having joy in adversity is clearly taught in the Bible. Yet few Christians experience joy during the difficulties of life. We tend to look more for relief from our suffering than for how God is working in it. James encouraged these believers to embrace each hardship with joy, not because it was happening to them but because of what it would produce in them.
James didn’t dismiss their struggle; he urged them not to compromise while struggling. Our circumstances aren’t excuses to bargain with God. If He isn’t sufficient in hard times, then He’s not sufficient at any time. His grace is always sufficient—no matter how difficult the moment (2 Corinthians 12:9).
James goes on to say that the adversity these believers faced was actually a tool of divine development. “…knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:3). If you consistently seek to be more like Jesus, then anything that produces the fruit of His Spirit in your life brings a measure joy.
Jesus, Himself, offers the greatest example of joy in adversity. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2–3).
Jesus endured the Cross to get to the throne. He didn’t find joy in the actual suffering but in what the suffering produced. You see, God doesn’t waste pain. Anything He allows to enter your life can be used for your benefit. A good illustration of this principle is athletic practice. Hard workouts produce perseverance. Coaches develop players so they can execute the plan under great pressure. So, the suffering endured in practice ultimately brings joy.
Likewise, we may have to go through some suffering to experience true joy. What difficulty or hardship are you enduring right now? Remember, the key to finding joy in adversity is understanding how it’s connected to your spiritual development. There’s a difference between joy and happiness. You don’t need to be happy that it’s happening to you; just start looking for what God is trying to produce in you.