May 12, 2020
Lisa Morrone, PT
“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, the apostle Paul 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?
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,
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 informative “Monday Morning Health Tips”!