James 1:2-6 (New International Version)
Trials and Temptations
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James, Jesus’ brother, wrote this letter in order to encourage persecuted believers to keep the faith. He instructs his audience to find joy in the midst of hardship and suffering. James teaches his dispirited readers that suffering actually helps to develop perseverance (or endurance) so as to complete and mature individuals. And perseverance, according to James, is not the desired outcome of suffering---maturity and/or completion in God should be.
God will convert suffering into something that develops maturity is us as believers. Maturity means that we possess the potential to reproduce, contribute, and create something beautiful that inspires. Completion allows us to be intimate with God because we are no longer tempted by the false promises of fulfillment by some force other that God Almighty, Himself.
Remember, joy isn’t happiness or spiritual euphoria. Joy isn’t a feel or a mood. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5). It is an awareness of the purpose of God concerning you. Joy is the deep sense of inward stability that is rooted in the knowledge that God will use whatever hardship you are experiencing to become a better you, for His glory, and for your calling.
So, what will it take for you to experience joy in the midst of your discomfort? Are you willing to not hinder the Holy Spirit’s “farming and producing” of joy in your soul? Because if you have joy, your suffering will draw you closer to God and it will weave godliness into your character. If you don’t have joy, all you have is suffering.
Nehemiah 8:10 (New International Version)
10 Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."