(Click here for the download of this devotional: English, French, Russian, and Spanish.)
Read James 1:1-4
What is the difference between being happy and being joyful? Can you give an example?
Being happy refers to being pleased or glad about something. Joy is an “emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” (dictionary.com). For example: you could be made fun of at school because you helped someone who was bullied. This won’t make you happy, but you can have joy knowing that you did what was right.)
How can you have joy in the midst of tough times?
You can knowing that God is protecting you, watching over you: knowing His plan will come through… and it is Him we are serving…Not ourselves.
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? If you are living to please yourself, if you are so concerned about wanting to be happy, there is no way to experience joy in the midst of trouble.
If you have the attitude that everything should be about you, your happiness, making you feel good, then you will be upset and hurt and complain when things are going badly.
Think of someone who has had incredible faith during a tough time… It may be someone your family knows or may be someone in your family. It could be someone from church or a missionary you have read about or seen in a movie like THE END OF THE SPEAR (This would make a great family night for age appropriate children. The film is about missionaries who were killed on a journey and the incredible way God worked through this terrible situation.).
You could also use the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers (Genesis 37:12-36). He in turn became very respected for his hard work and integrity, but was imprisoned because of a lie. God rescued him again and made him one of the greatest men; second in command of the whole nation.
-Ask this question about Joseph: Was Joseph happy about being in prison because somebody told a lie?
-Maybe share a tough time that you went through, trusted in God, and how, looking back on it now, you saw Him at work….
-You can use this personal story of Rusty, a man dealing with cancer, as a personal testimony of joy and perseverance: Rusty Escandel on JOY (English), (Spanish), (French), (Russian)
Whoever you use to illustrate this, you could ask: Was (so-and-so) happy as they were going through a difficult time?
Was JESUS happy he was on the cross?
No, but there was joy knowing He was rescuing humanity from sin!
Did Jesus promise us that, as Christians, we would have an easy life?
Nope. “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)
How can God expect us to have joy even in difficult times?
Because he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
In the midst of trouble, we can still depend upon Him.
We can do all things through Him who gives us strength.
We can have joy knowing that God is bigger than anything we will go through. We can trust Him, even if facing death (like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego).
We may not know why we are going through a difficult time, but we can rely on God.
Is there a situation you are going through where you are finding it hard to completely trust in God? Why?
A Question for the little kiddos: When do find it difficult to trust God?
Finish this sentence: It is hard to trust God when….