Imagine you walk into a coffee shop and see a person buckled over at the waist, tears streaming down their face. Is this person experiencing extreme sorrow or immense joy?

There are definitely clues that might help you determine whether it is sorrow or joy. But isn’t it strange that our body has the same responses in extreme cases of either? Closed eyes. Tears. Holding our stomach.

In a lot of ways, joy and pain are opposites. But if we take the perspective offered by James, they are more like cousins, descendants from the same family. The family of opportunity.

James 1 tells us we ought to see all trials as opportunities for our faith to be tested and proven, like gold or silver being refined. Although not pleasant, when we take this view, we can actually see all trials as related opportunities, terrains of our journey.

Suffering is a part of persevering in faith. A deep sense of hope, love, and joy that we have been gifted, the amazing opportunity to live by faith during the two-minute ride that is our life.

Of course we should not go looking for pain. And we certainly should not create it for ourselves. But when it inevitably arrives, we have an opportunity to see its presence in the context of a true perspective that puts our lives on earth into a much greater context. Our current life is a once-in-an-existence opportunity to know God by faith. We can embrace joy in that, even during times of difficulty.

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