My first response is to ask myself how I can possibly be joyful in the midst of troublesome circumstances. My second thought is to remember that being happy because something negative has come upon me is not the same as being joyful. In fact, being filled with joy is a part of our spiritual response, not merely a physical and emotional response to something happy in life.
The Bible speaks of being joyful in the midst of various trials.
My brothers and sisters, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
– James 1:2-4 New King James Version (NKJV)
We should not be surprised when we experience trials. It’s just a part of life. Bad things really do happen to good people. Our faith is what sustains us through those trials, and we can, indeed, find ourselves being joyful.
When I was very ill after my kidneys failed, I learned that I would be on daily dialysis. That news brought me great fear and an intense despondency. It was during that time that my cousin spoke to me in a phone conversation. “Be joyful!” she said. And instantly I knew she was right.
My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory.
– 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NCV).
The Bible says it best: “the various trials in your life . . . count it all joy, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”