What is purposeful joy? No, it’s not a term used in the Bible but I believe the concept is there, specifically in James 1:2-4.
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.
How is Joy Purposeful?
First, notice how we are to “consider it” joy when faced with trials. That’s a purposeful choice to let joy reign in our lives, not our circumstances.
The Greek word for “consider” (hegeomai) literally means to lead or go before, to have rule or authority over something. That means we don’t let our circumstances control us or pull us down. Instead, we choose to rise above by gaining perspective. We deem, or think about, our circumstances as joy — not just a glimmer of joy but “pure” joy. A better rendition for “pure joy” would be “all joy” as the Greek word (pas) means all, individually and collectively — complete.
Second, notice the reason for considering it joy when faced with trials. Trials have a purposeful outcome which give us a reason to grab hold of joy in adverse circumstances.
By looking at the big picture, that of the character trials build within us, we’re able to gain the perspective we need to choose joy. Persevering in hardships not only produces mature character but also leads to a sense of contentment in which we’re “complete, not lacking anything”. If we allow our circumstances to rule us, rather than considering them pure joy, we won’t arrive at this outcome.
Third, notice the expectation of life to not always be easy, filled with only “feel good” moments. “WHEN” not “IF” trials come, we can be prepared by having a purposeful plan already in place to combat human tendencies.
Jesus told us to expect problems when He said, “In this world you will have trouble” (Jn. 16:33). God uses His Word to prepare us. If we’re Bible illiterate, it’s going to be difficult, in the midst of trials, to grab hold of the perspective we need to purposefully choose joy. However, when we’re familiar with verses like James 1:2-4, we will be more likely to head in the direction of joy over despair, to let joy reign in our lives rather than our circumstances. We will need purposeful joy because it won’t come naturally. In the next post we’ll look at other Bible verses that show how this kind of joy is possible!