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Today’s Truth

“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)

Friend to Friend

The day was March 20, 2020. My daughter had been in college for eight long years, the last four having been spent in medical school. She had worked diligently, studied with tenacity, and scored well on her medical board exams. After having settled on a specialty, Emergency Medicine, she interviewed at a dozen excellent teaching hospitals. Finally, the day we were all waiting for—Match Day—was approaching. This was the day she would find out where she would match for her residency program.

A Match Day ceremony had been planned for her medical school. One hundred-seventy 4th year medical students, their relatives, friends, and significant others were to be gathered in a large auditorium for the BIG reveal—where exactly each student had successfully matched. And then, it happened…COVID-19.

Within a week’s time, this long-awaited Match Day ceremony was cancelled, bars and restaurants were closed, people were told to not meet together with groups larger than 10 and better yet, to self-isolate. My husband and I, urged by our soon-to-be physician daughter, prudently chose to stay at home in our own state, 7 ½ hours away. Sadly, we wouldn’t be by her side when she received the email disclosing her match.

This rogue and ruthless virus swiftly stole my daughter’s joy-filled event from her and robbed us of a very special occasion and a memory we hoped to have. Disappointed doesn’t begin to describe what we were all feeling! This would be just be the first of many stolen joys which surrounded the culmination of my daughter’s medical education.

But I’m sure you could relate your own story of loss which occurred within the first few months of this pandemic. Graduation ceremonies, weddings, and vacations were cancelled, sports championships were sidelined, jobs were lost, businesses failed, money vanished from retirement accounts—nothing for any of us to be happy about!

Yet, when I read through the book of James, James seems to look at times and events such as these with a much different perspective, like he knows something we don’t. He boldly tells us to “consider it PURE JOY when we face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).

Excuse me, what? Joy? You’ve lost me, Paul.

Yet the Holy Spirit prompted me to keep an open mind and continue reading— “…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.”

 

Aha, trials—those very ones which ruthlessly steal our joy—can act as maturing agents in our lives, if we manage to hold onto our faith through them. The order of this joy-producing process, according to Scripture, is this: Salvation- sanctification- trial(s)- faith- perseverance- maturation- completion, lacking no good thing.

In order to fully wrap our heads around this precept, we must tease out the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends on outside circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is an internal decision we make based on the conviction of things we know will come about, but that our eyes have yet to behold. Or as Hebrews 11:1 puts it: Faith “…is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

 

So, while happiness can be temporary, and is easily stolen by the circumstances in which we live, joy cannot be stolen; it can only be handed away. It is our decision: live in joy or walk in disappointment.

 

I will choose joy. How ‘bout you?

 

Let’s Pray

Dear Savior, these are trying times for us—individually, as a nation, and as a citizen of this world. Help us to desire joy’s presence, not to hand it off to shaky or disappointing circumstances. We love only you. You own everything we have and, in fact, you own us—bought a precious price.

In your precious name, Jesus,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Be real with God. Write down a big ol’ list of situations and people who you’ve allowed to steal your joy. Pray over it. Ask the Lord to help you rewrite that same list, listing instead what “happy” or “expected things” you lost. Now ask the Lord to show you how each circumstance has built your faith, developed your perseverance, and ultimate brought you to a place of greater maturity or completeness. Then chose to see things God’s way and choose to walk in joy!

More from the Girlfriends

Sleep Well Again (Harvest House Publishers) is one of Lisa’s six books in her Restoring Your Temple® health resource collection. Her books are available on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or wherever books are sold.

Lisa Morrone, PT is a physical therapist, professor, author of six books, radio guest and event speaker who encourages people to “Get Healthy for Heaven’s Sake.” Visit Lisa’s website for more information and to sign up to receive her informativeMonday Morning Health Tips”!

10 Responses to “Stolen Joys”

  1. Liz says:

    Just a question . Why do you attribute the Epistle of James to Paul ? I thought it was written by Jesus ‘ half brother James ?
    Regards Liz Wayman

    • GiGs says:

      Hi Liz,
      Yes you are correct. James wrote the Book of James. There was an error in writing of the devotion.
      Blessings.

  2. Donna says:

    In the May 12th devotional, wasn’t it James who wrote the Book of James, and not the apostle Paul?

    • GiGs says:

      Hi Donna,
      Yes you are correct. James wrote the Book of James. There was an error in writing of the devotion.
      Blessings.

  3. Lynda says:

    During this quarantine period, our family has been grieving over something much more precious than the loss of events…a healthy 20 year old college junior never woke up one morning at the end of March. Passed away in his sleep from what was to be determined to be an unknown heart condition. We too, missed some very meaningful events, but these losses could not compare with the loss of a child. Be thankful you have your daughter and praise God that you only missed an event. This sounds harsh, but we have to keep the importance in perspective. God bless you and may your daughter touch many lives.

  4. Deborah says:

    Dear Lisa, We too had a similar match experience. After 4 years of med school and waiting, on that stressful day. I walked downstairs to find my son in a heap of tears because he didn’t match. And then the next three days were spent with stress and pain as rejections came. I (worry prayed) then God said to Me Trust me, he sent me the gig lesson from march 19th by Kelly Balarie hope deferred makes a heart sick. I will never forget it. I decided to change my prayer to Lord please help us to except your answer whatever it is. I shared this with my disappointed son and we shared a special moment that morning. Then on the last possible chance the final match, 2 offers came through. And he will be leaving in a few weeks to start residency. We need to pray for those who didnt match it can be devastating for them. May God bless our doctors and nurses during this time.

  5. Susan says:

    Good morning! Thank you for your words today! How hard for your daughter and your family…this “new normal” is just so hard to wrap our heads around!
    Not being a nit picky person, but JAMES is one of my favorite books of the Bible, and the verses you referenced today have been some of my life verses-especially now as we need to look beyond what’s going on and CHOOSE JOY every day- but JAMES, not Paul wrote the book of James…so the scripture you quoted are James’ words, not the Apostle Paul’s.

    Love, peace and JOY to you!

  6. Ellen says:

    I too noted the reference to Paul as having written James.
    I like to think that James saw things being lived out in the life of Jesus, if indeed he was the half brother of Jesus. Thank you for this reference as it is a reminder of how to view the circumstances we are in.

  7. Carol says:

    “The Book of James” this little book, has soooo much wisdom!
    I always wonder, by watching Jesus navigate in the ancient world among people of all walks of life; James gathered so much insight.
    I’ve had my moments lately with God. He has realized my frustrations, sadness, and the weight of this whole situation we are in; He led me to the book of James.
    Of course, it broke my heart.
    Also, read II Corn. 4: 8-10; Paul wrote so perfectly, these verses…I call it my, “Rocky Balboa” reference!
    We need to recall a Christian praise song/verse: “even through I don’t see it…You’re working…even through I don’t feel it…You’re working…”
    Girls….you know He’s working!!!

  8. Karen says:

    Thanks Lisa for the devotional.i can certainly relate. My son’s graduation from dental school was Saturday May 9 at 2:00. It was a drive by, wave at the dean and hear your name over speakers. A sad day for us all. I was glad for your encouragement. Congratulations to your daughter. I also love reading your Monday post. Thanks again.

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