– Sam Storms
James wrote about joy and specifically in James 1:2-3 wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” If you knew that God was testing your faith, wouldn’t you think to be more joyful about it? It was easy for the Apostle Paul to compare this life and knowing Christ, as he wrote, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8). Christ is everything; everything else is trash!
Jesus was looking beyond the cross on the day He was crucified, and it was “for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). It’s as if Jesus visualized that image during the pain, suffering, and agony of the cross. That is what Paul wrote about in Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Amen.
We are either content with life or we are discontent. It is only contentment with godliness that is precious in God’s sight (1 Tim. 6:6). If we are discontented, we are telling God He is not as good as He could be. We reason that we’re not being treated like other Christians we know. However, a short glimpse into another nation in the world where they too are Christian shows struggle to have enough food for the day, they may have only one light bulb per home, or they might not even be able to have a Bible due to severe persecution. Yet even among these who suffer for their faith, they are among the most contented people on earth because they know that possessions don’t bring contentment–only Christ does. Being contented shows God you are thankful for what you do have and not ungrateful for what you don’t have.
Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering [but] the presence of God. Perhaps Sam Storms speaks from experience. Maybe he learned to call everything else garbage compared to knowing Christ; maybe he looked at the joy that’s set before us in the coming kingdom; and maybe he was content to live today for an eternal joy that can’t even be described in the coming future (Rev. 22).