Trials of Joy by Virgil Stripes
James 1:2-4 (ESV)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
What a strange God we serve. For where is the joy in suffering? Where is the pleasure in trials? I think that the joy and pleasure are only as we realize that we have the privilege of following in Jesus’ footprints. Jesus warned His followers that if the world hates Him, then they would be hated as well. In the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus tells those following Him: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Mt 5:11-12 ESV). Jesus came to Earth to bridge the gap between God and man, yet people rejected Him. And He warns us that if we are His followers, they will reject us too. So when we face difficulties brought on us by the world, not the stuff that we bring on ourselves, but the trials we face for being followers of Christ, rejoice!
Let us today seek to live in such a way that people will recognize Christ in us. This may cause us temporary pain and suffering, but eternal reward will follow. We will be rewarded not for having done anything, but for reflecting Christ to the world. We are called to this.
Picture is Spina Christi, Jerusalem, Israel - believed to be the type of tree the crown of thorns Jesus was given during His Passion was made from.