"Opportunity for joy"

Sometimes the Bible puzzles me. For instance, the book of James starts out by telling us that when tough things happen, "consider it an opportunity for great joy" (James 1:2). Really? "Great joy?" I don't know about you, but sometimes even a little joy can be hard to come by.

I've wondered how a verse like this applies when someone we care about passes away? Personally, I don't think my heart has ever ached as much as when my brother's wife died of cancer. The pain I felt and saw in my brother and his children was, at times, unbearable. So when we lose someone to death, does the Bible tell us to quit hurting and just be happy? Thankfully, no. Our natural response when someone dies is to grieve. Jesus Himself grieved the loss of His dear friend Lazarus (John 11:35). But for those who know Jesus, grief is never the end of the story.

Just hours before He was tortured and put to death on a cross, Jesus informed His first followers, "You will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to Me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy" (John 16:20). Hmmm, grief that turns into joy. There it is again. But how is that possible? Jesus goes on to say, "So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy" (John 16:22).

As Christians, we can look at death differently. It doesn't take away the sting of our loss today, but the hope of a great reunion with those who have gone before us brings a true sense of joy that carries us through our pain. , Jeff Olson, Our Daily Journey

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